Araza Natural Purees Blog

Education, product updates, recipes and more.

Mead: What’s Old Is New Again

Posted by Araza Purees on

Mead is an alcoholic beverage made from three simple ingredients: water, honey and yeast. Although it’s one of the world’s oldest alcoholic beverages, a new generation of consumers is discovering mead anew as they look beyond traditional beer and wine for something unique and different.

According to Andrzej Wilk Jr., general manager and production manager of Orchid Cellar Meadery and Winery in Middeletown, Maryland, “People are becoming more interested in mead and they are seeking us out. It’s definitely a growing segment in the alcohol industry.”

The gluten-free movement is also driving the growing popularity of mead, added Wilk. Not only are meads gluten-free, but grain-free, too.

Orchid Cellar produces several meads. “Our traditional, old world mead is usually aged longer and has a higher alcohol content,” said Wilk, while Elemental is the company’s sparkling product line, which is packaged in a single-serve format and has a lower ABV and calorie count than most other bubbly beverages.

The Elemental sparkling meads are also made with real fruit puree.

“The benefit of real fruit puree is that we get flavors from the whole fruit, including the tartness and sourness. The flavor profile and consistency have been great for the Elemental line,” explained Wilk.

In addition, purchasing high quality, real fruit puree instead of having to process fruit on-site to make puree “literally saves us days in the production process.”

Wilk is focused on crafting premium beverages made with superior ingredients, including real fruit puree. In turn, customers are willing to pay more for the company’s meads.

The honey used in the company’s meads is sourced locally, and some is even produced on the company’s property.

“We find great joy in employing billions of honeybees while helping them maintain a healthy population and providing them with a safe pollinator sanctuary,” Wilk said.

Furthermore, “We definitely campaign to use real fruit when we can. We don’t use any flavorings. None of our products taste artificial, and that is our number one priority.”

Meanwhile, “Because we are using honey as our fermenting sugar, we’re already using a more expensive ingredient, so that increases our price point a bit,” he said. “While people may therefore pay a little more for our meads compared to a hard cider or seltzer, for example, they are expecting a higher quality product. 

Despite launching the Elemental product line just before the onset of COVID-19, Wilk said the new sparkling mead brand “has been working out great for us.”

He said the company continues to grow “little by little” every year, which is just fine for a small family business that is “more focused on product quality than quantity.”

Did you know…

  • Mead is an alcoholic beverage made from water, honey, and fermented with yeast. It’s typically flavored with spices, fruits, or even grain, to enhance the flavor. 
  • In winemaking, we often talk about terroir, which refers to the soil, climate, and agriculture methods that influence a wine’s taste; the honey used in making mead also reflects the flavors and characteristics of a particular region’s blooms.
  • Meads are aged from 3 months for lighter meads to over 3 years for heavier meads. Orchid Cellar uses both oak barrels and stainless steel tanks.
  • Preservatives are not needed for meads because honey is a natural preservative, while the high alcohol content also acts as a preservative.

The alcohol content of mead ranges between 16 to 18 percent for classic meads and 6 to 13 percent for Orchid Cellar’s lighter meads. The alcohol is a result of natural fermentation and Orchid Cellar does not fortify its meads.

Photo Credit: Elemental Mead

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Mead: What’s Old Is New Again

Posted by Araza Purees on

Mead is an alcoholic beverage made from three simple ingredients: water, honey and yeast. Although it’s one of the world’s oldest alcoholic beverages, a new generation of consumers is discovering mead anew as they look beyond traditional beer and wine for something unique and different.

According to Andrzej Wilk Jr., general manager and production manager of Orchid Cellar Meadery and Winery in Middeletown, Maryland, “People are becoming more interested in mead and they are seeking us out. It’s definitely a growing segment in the alcohol industry.”

The gluten-free movement is also driving the growing popularity of mead, added Wilk. Not only are meads gluten-free, but grain-free, too.

Orchid Cellar produces several meads. “Our traditional, old world mead is usually aged longer and has a higher alcohol content,” said Wilk, while Elemental is the company’s sparkling product line, which is packaged in a single-serve format and has a lower ABV and calorie count than most other bubbly beverages.

The Elemental sparkling meads are also made with real fruit puree.

“The benefit of real fruit puree is that we get flavors from the whole fruit, including the tartness and sourness. The flavor profile and consistency have been great for the Elemental line,” explained Wilk.

In addition, purchasing high quality, real fruit puree instead of having to process fruit on-site to make puree “literally saves us days in the production process.”

Wilk is focused on crafting premium beverages made with superior ingredients, including real fruit puree. In turn, customers are willing to pay more for the company’s meads.

The honey used in the company’s meads is sourced locally, and some is even produced on the company’s property.

“We find great joy in employing billions of honeybees while helping them maintain a healthy population and providing them with a safe pollinator sanctuary,” Wilk said.

Furthermore, “We definitely campaign to use real fruit when we can. We don’t use any flavorings. None of our products taste artificial, and that is our number one priority.”

Meanwhile, “Because we are using honey as our fermenting sugar, we’re already using a more expensive ingredient, so that increases our price point a bit,” he said. “While people may therefore pay a little more for our meads compared to a hard cider or seltzer, for example, they are expecting a higher quality product. 

Despite launching the Elemental product line just before the onset of COVID-19, Wilk said the new sparkling mead brand “has been working out great for us.”

He said the company continues to grow “little by little” every year, which is just fine for a small family business that is “more focused on product quality than quantity.”

Did you know…

  • Mead is an alcoholic beverage made from water, honey, and fermented with yeast. It’s typically flavored with spices, fruits, or even grain, to enhance the flavor. 
  • In winemaking, we often talk about terroir, which refers to the soil, climate, and agriculture methods that influence a wine’s taste; the honey used in making mead also reflects the flavors and characteristics of a particular region’s blooms.
  • Meads are aged from 3 months for lighter meads to over 3 years for heavier meads. Orchid Cellar uses both oak barrels and stainless steel tanks.
  • Preservatives are not needed for meads because honey is a natural preservative, while the high alcohol content also acts as a preservative.

The alcohol content of mead ranges between 16 to 18 percent for classic meads and 6 to 13 percent for Orchid Cellar’s lighter meads. The alcohol is a result of natural fermentation and Orchid Cellar does not fortify its meads.

Photo Credit: Elemental Mead

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Can Do! Well, Not Quite.

Posted by Araza Purees on

The aluminum can shortage impacting the U.S. beverage market shows no signs of abating. However, major manufacturers such as Ball Corporation are increasing capacity as quickly as possible while some beer makers are reinstating bottling lines or finding creative solutions to maintain supply to customers.

Last year’s abrupt restrictions on in-person dining and drinking caused demand for packaged beverages, including canned beer, hard seltzers and soft drinks, to spike sharply.

Prior to the pandemic, consumers were already gravitating towards canned beverages due to their sustainability attributes, lighter weight and easy portability—features that are likewise attractive from a logistics and shipping perspective, especially with the added advantages of cans being less fragile than glass and easier to load more densely into a truck trailer or shipping container.

Beer makers also embraced aluminum cans over bottles in recent years. Yet, the severity of the aluminum can shortage is prompting some to revert to bottles again.

Colorado-based beer makers Odell Brewing and Left Hand Brewing both announced last fall that they would reinstate bottling lines for some of their beer brands. For Odell, the move was described as a “temporary” measure until the aluminum market stabilized.

Other breweries are relabeling unused cans, or using different sized cans, to keep their beverages flowing to consumers.

Meanwhile, Ball Corporation, the largest manufacturer of aluminum cans in North America, ramped up production capacity last year at two facilities in Texas and Georgia, and will bring three new facilities online this year.

The company’s Glendale, Arizona facility opened in the first quarter, and another facility in Pittston, Pennsylvania is opening this summer. A third facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky will begin operating later this year.

During its first quarter earnings report in May, the company noted that, “Demand for aluminum beverage cans and bottles continues to outstrip supply across North America.”

The supply-demand imbalance is expected to last at least into 2023, according to Ball Corporation’s President, Daniel Fisher.

The company has also turned to importing aluminum cans to help meet demand until its new facilities are operational.

(see chart below)

Top 10 Aluminum Producing Countries

  1. China
  2. Russia
  3. India
  4. Canada
  5. United Arab Emirates
  6. Australia
  7. Bahrain
  8. Norway
  9. United States
  10. Iceland

Source: USGS.gov

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Can Do! Well, Not Quite.

Posted by Araza Purees on

The aluminum can shortage impacting the U.S. beverage market shows no signs of abating. However, major manufacturers such as Ball Corporation are increasing capacity as quickly as possible while some beer makers are reinstating bottling lines or finding creative solutions to maintain supply to customers.

Last year’s abrupt restrictions on in-person dining and drinking caused demand for packaged beverages, including canned beer, hard seltzers and soft drinks, to spike sharply.

Prior to the pandemic, consumers were already gravitating towards canned beverages due to their sustainability attributes, lighter weight and easy portability—features that are likewise attractive from a logistics and shipping perspective, especially with the added advantages of cans being less fragile than glass and easier to load more densely into a truck trailer or shipping container.

Beer makers also embraced aluminum cans over bottles in recent years. Yet, the severity of the aluminum can shortage is prompting some to revert to bottles again.

Colorado-based beer makers Odell Brewing and Left Hand Brewing both announced last fall that they would reinstate bottling lines for some of their beer brands. For Odell, the move was described as a “temporary” measure until the aluminum market stabilized.

Other breweries are relabeling unused cans, or using different sized cans, to keep their beverages flowing to consumers.

Meanwhile, Ball Corporation, the largest manufacturer of aluminum cans in North America, ramped up production capacity last year at two facilities in Texas and Georgia, and will bring three new facilities online this year.

The company’s Glendale, Arizona facility opened in the first quarter, and another facility in Pittston, Pennsylvania is opening this summer. A third facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky will begin operating later this year.

During its first quarter earnings report in May, the company noted that, “Demand for aluminum beverage cans and bottles continues to outstrip supply across North America.”

The supply-demand imbalance is expected to last at least into 2023, according to Ball Corporation’s President, Daniel Fisher.

The company has also turned to importing aluminum cans to help meet demand until its new facilities are operational.

(see chart below)

Top 10 Aluminum Producing Countries

  1. China
  2. Russia
  3. India
  4. Canada
  5. United Arab Emirates
  6. Australia
  7. Bahrain
  8. Norway
  9. United States
  10. Iceland

Source: USGS.gov

Read more


Tapping Into Self-Pour Systems To Ease the Labor Crunch

Posted by Araza Purees on

The re-opening of restaurants and bars is a welcomed development following the hardships brought on by the pandemic. Yet, many establishments across the U.S. are finding it difficult to attract and maintain adequate staffing.

Similar to the automation boom that has accelerated over the past 18 months in the warehouse sector, interest in automated self-pour systems is growing in the restaurant and hospitality sectors.

Self-pour beverage system provider PourMyBeer launched in 2015, and now boasts 8,000 taps in 24 countries.

Last September, the Chicagoland-headquartered company announced that Coca-Cola European Partners had acquired a 25 percent stake in PourMyBeer with an aim to introduce self-pour dispense technology to customers in Western Europe, beginning with a trial in Spain.

After the implementation of the PourMyBeer system an establishment can typically operate with 50 percent less staff than they would need with a traditional set-up, noted Marketing Director, Tana Rulkova.

The all-important customer service and interaction that customers expect in a restaurant or bar is not compromised, and most times is enhanced, as staff has extra time to devote to customers because they are not having to pour beers (or free samples), open wine bottles or mix cocktails, according to Rulkova.

Many establishments appoint a “Beverage Wall Ambassador” to educate customers on the various craft beers, wines, cocktails or other beverages, offer suggestions, and provide friendly interaction just like a bartender.

In addition, customers like the variety and flexibility of pouring their own beverage, especially when they can sample a lot of different beers or wines.

PourMyBeer’s top 10 clients all offer at least 30 taps, said Rulkova. When customers come into an establishment offering this much variety, and customers can choose what they want to sample, or perhaps opt for several half-glasses, it’s a real “wow effect” for them and eliminates the occasional disappointment of ordering a beverage and not liking it.

Furthermore, after implementing a self-pour system, establishments find that customers tend to spend more.

In one client case study, the average customer spent $23, roughly the cost of 3 to 4 beers at the establishment. While only about 30 percent of the establishment’s customers chose to pour full glasses and not sample beverages by the ounce using the self-pour system, the remaining 70 percent poured themselves a half-glass or less, resulting in customers tasting between 6 to 8 beers per visit. 

Rulkova noted that customers in the 30- to 55-year-old age range are most attracted to self-pour beverage systems and tend to spend more at establishments that feature them, compared to college-aged consumers who sometimes cannot afford to pay for typically pricier craft beer, or older customers who may not be as open-minded about interacting with new technology.

Restaurants, bars, taprooms and breweries comprise the largest share of PourMyBeer’s clients. Other client venues include hotels, airports, military bases, grocery stores, golf courses and cruise ships, among others.

Read more

Tapping Into Self-Pour Systems To Ease the Labor Crunch

Posted by Araza Purees on

The re-opening of restaurants and bars is a welcomed development following the hardships brought on by the pandemic. Yet, many establishments across the U.S. are finding it difficult to attract and maintain adequate staffing.

Similar to the automation boom that has accelerated over the past 18 months in the warehouse sector, interest in automated self-pour systems is growing in the restaurant and hospitality sectors.

Self-pour beverage system provider PourMyBeer launched in 2015, and now boasts 8,000 taps in 24 countries.

Last September, the Chicagoland-headquartered company announced that Coca-Cola European Partners had acquired a 25 percent stake in PourMyBeer with an aim to introduce self-pour dispense technology to customers in Western Europe, beginning with a trial in Spain.

After the implementation of the PourMyBeer system an establishment can typically operate with 50 percent less staff than they would need with a traditional set-up, noted Marketing Director, Tana Rulkova.

The all-important customer service and interaction that customers expect in a restaurant or bar is not compromised, and most times is enhanced, as staff has extra time to devote to customers because they are not having to pour beers (or free samples), open wine bottles or mix cocktails, according to Rulkova.

Many establishments appoint a “Beverage Wall Ambassador” to educate customers on the various craft beers, wines, cocktails or other beverages, offer suggestions, and provide friendly interaction just like a bartender.

In addition, customers like the variety and flexibility of pouring their own beverage, especially when they can sample a lot of different beers or wines.

PourMyBeer’s top 10 clients all offer at least 30 taps, said Rulkova. When customers come into an establishment offering this much variety, and customers can choose what they want to sample, or perhaps opt for several half-glasses, it’s a real “wow effect” for them and eliminates the occasional disappointment of ordering a beverage and not liking it.

Furthermore, after implementing a self-pour system, establishments find that customers tend to spend more.

In one client case study, the average customer spent $23, roughly the cost of 3 to 4 beers at the establishment. While only about 30 percent of the establishment’s customers chose to pour full glasses and not sample beverages by the ounce using the self-pour system, the remaining 70 percent poured themselves a half-glass or less, resulting in customers tasting between 6 to 8 beers per visit. 

Rulkova noted that customers in the 30- to 55-year-old age range are most attracted to self-pour beverage systems and tend to spend more at establishments that feature them, compared to college-aged consumers who sometimes cannot afford to pay for typically pricier craft beer, or older customers who may not be as open-minded about interacting with new technology.

Restaurants, bars, taprooms and breweries comprise the largest share of PourMyBeer’s clients. Other client venues include hotels, airports, military bases, grocery stores, golf courses and cruise ships, among others.

Read more


What is the Difference between Aseptic Purees and Aseptic Juices?

Posted by Araza Purees on

Many processed fruit suppliers to the beer industry, whether they’re selling orange juice or mango puree, tend to call all of their products puree. However, outside of the beer industry, most beverage and food manufacturers tend to categorize processed fruit as purees or juices.

Some processed fruit industry participants would argue that fruits such as orange, grapefruit, lime, lemon, mandarin, blood orange, and passion fruit, should all be classified as juices since the product is squeezed. Notably, many of these are citrus fruits. The people in this camp would take the position that there’s no such thing as “orange puree” or “lime puree.”

The terminology debate can further be nuanced because the fruits that fall into the puree category (mango, pineapple, pear, cherry, etc.) could also be juices if their Brix falls below the standardized range. In this case, a pineapple puree is going to be more viscous than a pineapple juice.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), pure 100% juice must be “all juice” with “no adjustment, not from concentrate.” Puree, meanwhile, is “pulp-containing” and is “more viscous than juices, totally fruit.” 

The FAO provides some guidance in its Agricultural Services Bulletin 146, stating that, “…juice is the fluid expressed from plant material by crushing, comminuting and pressing. It can be clear, cloudy or pulpy. Juice is classified as puree, if the resulting consistency is fluid that pours very slowly, or pulp if it pours even more slowly. To complicate the matter further, juices that are concentrated for preservation, handling and storage and reconstituted for consumption (labelled ‘juice from concentrate’) should be diluted back to approximately the same solids level (designated as Brix or percent soluble solids) of the initial juice. The amount of add-back water can vary substantially even within a given fruit, so reasonable commercial standards are set (FDA, 1999).”

Read more

Many processed fruit suppliers to the beer industry, whether they’re selling orange juice or mango puree, tend to call all of their products puree. However, outside of the beer industry, most beverage and food manufacturers tend to categorize processed fruit as purees or juices.

Some processed fruit industry participants would argue that fruits such as orange, grapefruit, lime, lemon, mandarin, blood orange, and passion fruit, should all be classified as juices since the product is squeezed. Notably, many of these are citrus fruits. The people in this camp would take the position that there’s no such thing as “orange puree” or “lime puree.”

The terminology debate can further be nuanced because the fruits that fall into the puree category (mango, pineapple, pear, cherry, etc.) could also be juices if their Brix falls below the standardized range. In this case, a pineapple puree is going to be more viscous than a pineapple juice.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), pure 100% juice must be “all juice” with “no adjustment, not from concentrate.” Puree, meanwhile, is “pulp-containing” and is “more viscous than juices, totally fruit.” 

The FAO provides some guidance in its Agricultural Services Bulletin 146, stating that, “…juice is the fluid expressed from plant material by crushing, comminuting and pressing. It can be clear, cloudy or pulpy. Juice is classified as puree, if the resulting consistency is fluid that pours very slowly, or pulp if it pours even more slowly. To complicate the matter further, juices that are concentrated for preservation, handling and storage and reconstituted for consumption (labelled ‘juice from concentrate’) should be diluted back to approximately the same solids level (designated as Brix or percent soluble solids) of the initial juice. The amount of add-back water can vary substantially even within a given fruit, so reasonable commercial standards are set (FDA, 1999).”

Read more


Crafting For Success: Real Fruit Purees a Market Differentiator at Belching Beaver

Posted by Araza Purees on

You could say that San Diego, California is hoppin’ when it comes to its beer scene.

According to the City of San Diego Economic Development Department, it ranks among the top 5 cities nation-wide with the most operating beer breweries, and craft breweries make up a sizeable portion of the overall industry.

Belching Beaver, launched in 2012, is a craft brewery headquartered in San Diego producing a variety of beers and hard seltzer. Its hard seltzer line-up includes three flavors: Passion Fruit & Guava, Pineapple & Mango, and Raspberry & Blackberry.

The brewery uses real fruit purees to flavor its hard seltzer, said Belching Beaver’s Brewmaster, Troy Smith.

From the start, it was important for the brewery to adhere to its “craft” roots and deliver a product that differentiated itself from the other hard seltzers on the market that were clear in color and used flavorings rather than real fruit.

“We are a craft brewery, not ‘big beer,’ and we wanted to take a craft approach to our hard seltzer that had all the characteristics, such as low calorie, low carb, and around 5 percent ABV, but really stood apart from the rest. That was our main goal,” said Smith.

“It took us a little longer to get to market with our hard seltzer, because it’s a bit more finicky working with real fruit than it is working with a tincture or extract that mimics a flavor,” he added.

However, not every fruit is a good candidate for hard seltzer, partly because when real fruit is fermented and the sugar is stripped out the result can be very tart. Citrus fruits are particularly difficult to work with for this reason, Smith said.

Hard seltzer made with real fruit puree instead of fruit flavoring results in a hazy colored beverage as opposed to clear, and a slightly different mouthfeel.  

Some consumers also detect a bit more acidity in products made with real fruit puree versus flavoring, which is not surprising said Smith, “because real fruit does have a higher acidity profile, like raspberries and passion fruit, for example.”

Belching Beaver recently expanded its hard seltzer line-up with a product that contains both real fruit puree and extracts. The newest hard seltzer is called the Blender Series.

Smith says the combination of real fruit and extracts offered more versatility and “allowed us to obtain some of those flavors that were lost during fermentation.”

Read more

You could say that San Diego, California is hoppin’ when it comes to its beer scene.

According to the City of San Diego Economic Development Department, it ranks among the top 5 cities nation-wide with the most operating beer breweries, and craft breweries make up a sizeable portion of the overall industry.

Belching Beaver, launched in 2012, is a craft brewery headquartered in San Diego producing a variety of beers and hard seltzer. Its hard seltzer line-up includes three flavors: Passion Fruit & Guava, Pineapple & Mango, and Raspberry & Blackberry.

The brewery uses real fruit purees to flavor its hard seltzer, said Belching Beaver’s Brewmaster, Troy Smith.

From the start, it was important for the brewery to adhere to its “craft” roots and deliver a product that differentiated itself from the other hard seltzers on the market that were clear in color and used flavorings rather than real fruit.

“We are a craft brewery, not ‘big beer,’ and we wanted to take a craft approach to our hard seltzer that had all the characteristics, such as low calorie, low carb, and around 5 percent ABV, but really stood apart from the rest. That was our main goal,” said Smith.

“It took us a little longer to get to market with our hard seltzer, because it’s a bit more finicky working with real fruit than it is working with a tincture or extract that mimics a flavor,” he added.

However, not every fruit is a good candidate for hard seltzer, partly because when real fruit is fermented and the sugar is stripped out the result can be very tart. Citrus fruits are particularly difficult to work with for this reason, Smith said.

Hard seltzer made with real fruit puree instead of fruit flavoring results in a hazy colored beverage as opposed to clear, and a slightly different mouthfeel.  

Some consumers also detect a bit more acidity in products made with real fruit puree versus flavoring, which is not surprising said Smith, “because real fruit does have a higher acidity profile, like raspberries and passion fruit, for example.”

Belching Beaver recently expanded its hard seltzer line-up with a product that contains both real fruit puree and extracts. The newest hard seltzer is called the Blender Series.

Smith says the combination of real fruit and extracts offered more versatility and “allowed us to obtain some of those flavors that were lost during fermentation.”

Read more