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ABSTRACT

Rabbiteye blueberries were dried using an experimental high temperature fluidized bed (HTFB) dehydrator and the properties of the dried product were evaluated. 15 m/sec air velocity was required for fluidization and at 170°C the moisture content (MC in kg water/kg dry matter) of thawed blueberries was reduced from 5.8 to 0.7 after 8 min. After osmotic dehydration in sucrose, MC was 1.3, and 4 min in the HTFB drier at 150°C reduced MC to 0.28. Reduction of water activity to 0.5 after HTFB required cabinet drying at 60°C and 4 m/ set for 2.13 and 2.75 hr for the untreated and osmotically dehydrated berries, respectively. HTFB simultaneously dried and puffed the berries, resulting in reduced bulk density compared to berries produced using conventional drying. Osmotic dehydration prior to HTFB imparted a raisin-like texture to the product.