Pickling or salt curing is one of the major traditional processes to increase the shelf life of bitter gourd in India. No information is available about optimization of salt curing of bitter gourd and the related changes in its quality. Moreover, specific investigations are needed to evaluate individual susceptibility of fruit and vegetables to osmotic dewatering with pre-treatment to obtain new minimally processed food products. The purpose of this study is to optimize the salt curing process with blanching as pretreatment for bitter gourd.
A study was conducted to optimize the blanching and other process factors of salt curing (solution concentration and treatment time) based on mass transfer and quality factors of bitter gourd using response surface methodology. Experimental design was made using central composite rotatable design with different time of blanching, solution concentration and treatment time. The colour, firmness, water activity and other mass transfer kinetic parameters were used for optimization.
Blanching had significant effect (p < 0.001) on water loss (WL), weight reduction (WR), solid gain (SG), water activity and firmness of bitter gourd. Mass transfer kinetic parameters like WL, SG and normalized solid content increased and normalized moisture content was found to decrease with increase in solution concentration and curing time. Relationships between process variables and quality factors were established in either quadratic or linear form with higher R2 values. A 15 per cent solution concentration for the period of 5 h with the blanched samples at 800°C for 5.26 min was found to be the optimum condition for osmotic dehydration to achieve maximum WL and SG, minimum water activity and minimum changes in firmness.
The optimized combinations for the salt curing process would be more helpful for the processors and other stakeholders involved in the pickling process by reducing energy and other input resources.
Mostly in India, the pickling process is carried out at micro- and small-scale level and in an unorganized way. This study would help those involved to reduce their input resources and to organize the process, thus leading to more dividends to the stakeholders and optimum price to the end-users. For the medium- and large-scale processing units, this study would give insight to automate the whole process in an efficient manner.
This study was performed using sophisticated and higher-end instruments. The data were observed meticulously and analysed with proper statistical tools, increasing the credibility of the study. This study gives concrete results which are directly useful to the stakeholders.
V., E., Behera, G., Saharan, V. and Meena, V. (2016), "Optimization of salt curing of bitter gourd (
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