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Blueberries (Vaccinium ssp.) are a species from the family Ericaceae, which includes approximately 450 species. Besides cranberries and lingonberries, blueberries were domesticated in the 20th century. The popularity of blueberries increased throughout the last decade. In 1990, blueberries were grown only in ten countries, whereas in 2011, they were cultivated commercially in 27 countries. The globalization of soft fruit production combined with the development of agricultural mechanization and automation caused a severe problem with the overproduction and unequal distribution of blueberry products throughout the world, even making them a political issue. The overproduction of highly perishable soft fruit results in a huge amount of waste. At the same time, it becomes a challenge for the food industry and an objective of food processing technologies to preserve not only the quantity of fruit products, but also to develop novel products and, thus, to offer consumers a broader selection of healthy foodstuffs. Furthermore, in order to promote the consumption of blueberries throughout the year, a number of post-harvest actions are used, including temperature- and atmosphere-control storage and freezing. A promising area of blueberry processing is temperature-dependent drying performed using conventional and modern technologies, as well as their combination, which enhances the processing efficiency and the nutritional quality of blueberry products. The process itself and the conditions applied could be modified in various ways so as to obtain diverse final products with moderate moisture content, thus opening the way for new uses of blueberries in the food industry. In such cases, the quality of new products needs to be thoroughly evaluated, especially when temperature-dependent processes lead to significant changes at a molecular level. In turn, the development of new processing methods and the related findings regarding the changes in the fruit composition constantly necessitate the determination of new fruit quality parameters.
Generally, blueberries in a fresh form consist of water (84%), carbohydrates (9.7%), proteins (0.6%) and fat (0.4%). The average energetic value of a 100-g serving of fresh blueberries is estimated at 192 kJ. Blueberries are also a good source of dietary fiber that constitutes 3%–3.5% of fruit weight. Besides the taste, the main interest in this fruit is due to the moderate vitamin C content, as 100 g of blueberries provide, on average, 10 mg of ascorbic acid, which is equal to 1/3 of the daily recommended intake.
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