Smoothies and shakes: Blended investment

A selection of fruit smoothies can add on-trend beverage choices to your menu and boost your average check. There are several ways to go when it comes to purchasing and operating strategies.

Fresh from scratch smoothies are the most difficult to execute. Fresh fruit is not simple to select, buy, store and handle. Often you have to ripen fruit shipped green, and there’s a brief window of usability—waste can be a problem. In addition, fresh fruit has to be peeled, pitted and otherwise prepped, which can impact labor costs. Seasonality is often a factor, too. That said, fresh fruit smoothies made from scratch are a classy beverage offering and can be promoted and priced to reflect that.

Many of the purchasing difficulties with fresh can be avoided by using IQF (individually quick frozen) fruit. Seasonality is no longer an issue, and fruit frozen at its peak can be better quality than fresh fruit that’s past its prime. Check deliveries at the back door to ensure that the product is still frozen solid. A good compromise is to combine IQF product with dependable fresh varieties, such as bananas and citrus, that are generally available year round.

Perhaps the easiest way to serve a smoothie is to buy one of the many mixes on the market. Powders and concentrates require messy mixing and usually don’t produce the best-quality final product. A better choice is full-strength smoothie mix, available in a huge variety of flavors. These products usually come in reclosable 1-liter boxes, which are shelf-stable until opened. To use, just puree in a blender with ice. This type of smoothie mix can also be dispensed from a granita machine.

A whole new category of smoothie has grown up around tea. Black tea, green tea, white tea and especially chai (a spicy milky tea concoction) are all available in concentrate form, ready to blend with ice and serve. The latest entry is yerba mate, a South American tea drink that’s also being promoted as a smoothie. For a signature smoothie, add fresh or frozen fruit to these tea concentrates.

A favorite way to upgrade smoothie selections is with ingredient additions. Yogurt, milk, ice cream, sherbet or sorbet all thicken and/or add richness. Soy or rice milk are dairy-free variations. Bee pollen, kelp, soy protein, creatine, whey, wheatgrass, echinacea and ginkgo biloba appeal to the health-seeking crowd, but you’ll have to go outside the usual supply channels to purchase most of them.

Finally, pomegranates, tart cherries, blueberries and acai berries are all touted for their high antioxidant levels. It’s easy—although relatively expensive—to add a dose of these healthy juices to any smoothie.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
torch flame

There’s more than one way to open a wine bottle. When a corkscrew is nowhere to be found, David Brue—chef de cuisine and production manager for The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s central production kitchen in Columbus, Ohio—reaches for his butane torch.

“I can never find a corkscrew anywhere, but for some reason, I always have a torch,” Brue says. “Heat the neck of the bottle carefully, and the cork pops right out.”

Managing Your Business
uconn gluten free bakery

When Amarillo Independent School District opened a central bakery , the foodservice team faced years of challenges: getting a handle on equipment, refining recipes and planning for shrinkage, says Michael Brungo, residential district manager of dining services for Chartwells at the Amarillo, Texas, district. Through trial and error, the right solutions at the bakery—which provides sliced bread and sandwich buns for the district’s 55 schools—rose to the top.

Though kitchens in general can be a minefield of issues, bakeries present some unique challenges thanks in part to the finicky...

Managing Your Business
food safety manager paperwork

Food safety can be a lot to handle, requiring plenty of paperwork and diligence to ensure a kitchen complies with health regulations. It’s important to assess the structure of a food safety program —and to know what’s required, and what’s just good to have on hand.

In recent years, as Virginia Tech’s foodservice operations have expanded, so has its Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points strategy. The Blacksburg, Va., university doubled its food safety staff to two employees, in addition to a training project coordinator and a manager to teach basic food safety classes to...

Ideas and Innovation
ticket stubs

Every week, our cooks pick an experimental kitchen project to expand their skills, culminating in a Friday contest where they cook a new dish that puts them out of their comfort zone. The winner of the weekly contest is awarded points and prizes. The cook with the most points at the end of the year receives a free ticket to an annual team gathering in Maine, where staffers bond and gain inspiration from coastal menus.

FSD Resources