Drying and quality characteristics of fresh and sugar-infused blueberries dried with infrared radiation heating
We evaluated the finished product quality and infrared (IR) drying characteristics of fresh and sugar-infused blueberries dried with a catalytic infrared (CIR) dryer. IR drying tests were conducted at four product temperatures (60, 70, 80, and 90 °C) to evaluate the drying rate and the color and texture of the finished product. Fresh blueberries dried with convective hot air drying at 60 °C were used as control for comparison. The experimental data of moisture changes during IR drying were modeled with eight different models, including Page, modified Page, Thompson, Newton, Wang and Singh, and Henderson and Pabis, and two models developed in this study. The Thompson model showed the best fit to all experimental data. The CIR drying produced firmer-texture products with much reduced drying time compared with hot air drying. For fresh blueberries, CIR drying conserved drying time by 44% at 60 °C. The effective moisture diffusivity ranged from 2.24 x 10-10 to 16.4 x 10-10 m2/s and from 0.61 x 10-10 to 3.84 x 10-10 m2/s for fresh and sugar-infused blueberries, respectively.