IMPROVED PROCESSES FOR CUCUMBERS, CABBAGE, SWEETPOTATOES, AND PEPPERS TO MAKE HIGH QUALITY, NUTRITIOUS PRODUCTS AND REDUCE POLLUTION
Location: Food Science Research
Project Number: 6645-41000-007-00
Start Date: Aug 16, 2010
End Date: Aug 15, 2015
1. Develop approaches for commercial cucumber fermentations without the use of sodium chloride that will prevent development of post fermentation microbiological spoilage and retain the quality of cucumbers during storage.
2. Increase consumer acceptance of acidified vegetables that are refrigerated or preserved at ambient temperature without a thermal process by use of alternative acids and natural antimicrobial compounds to replace traditional preservatives, and by addition of pro-biotic lactic acid bacteria that provide health benefits to consumers.
3. Evaluate the use of newly developed pasteurizable plastic containers and alternative approaches to heating acidified vegetables in hermetically sealed containers, including microwave heating technologies, to reduce the energy input required to manufacture safe, high quality acidified vegetable products and deliver them to consumers.
4. Develop a new vortex dehydration technology to convert sweetpotatoes and sweetpotato by-products into functional ingredients to be used in processed food products.
5. Evaluate advanced sweetpotato genotypes intended for processing applications, postharvest handling systems, and processing technologies for their potential to increase levels of beneficial phytochemicals in concert with production of high quality food products.
The acidified and fermented vegetable industry must address issues of: (1) excessive chloride waste from high salt fermentations, (2) high energy consumption from the use of 50 year old steam pasteurization technology, and (3) static or declining consumption of traditional product lines. For sweetpotatoes to make a greater contribution to the U.S. diet, they must be converted into forms that maintain or increase nutrient levels and that can be conveniently used by food processors in a variety of food products. To reduce chloride waste, methods to do commercial cucumber fermentations without use of sodium chloride will be developed. Reduction of energy consumption will be addressed by using microwave heating to more efficiently deliver heat to products and by developing practical means to pre-heat product and brine prior to filling containers. More convenient packaging, alternatives to traditional preservatives, acidification of nutrient rich vegetables to reduce sour taste intensity, and procedures to deliver probiotic bacteria will be developed to provide new approaches to add value to fermented and acidified vegetable products. Sweetpotato farmers and processors need new processing approaches that will result in increased production and consumption of this highly nutritious vegetable. A new vortex dehydration technology will be evaluated to determine if it can be used to produce high quality dehydrated sweetpotato flours from orange and purple flesh sweetpotatoes which can serve as functional food ingredients. There will be continued coordination with sweetpotato breeding programs to develop cultivars better adapted to year round production of sweetpotato fries and chips.