8.5 Technology of semi-processed fruit products

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The semi-processed fruit products are manufactured in order to be delivered to industry processing centres (in the fruit producing country itself or in importing countries) where they will be further manufactured in consumer oriented finished products: jams, jellies, syrups, fruits in syrup, etc.

In the practice of semi-processed fruit products and for the purpose of this document the following categories are defined:

  1. fruit "pulps": semi-processed products, not refined, obtained by mechanical treatment (or, less often, by thermal treatment) of fruit followed by their preservation. Either whole fruit, halves or big pieces are used which enables easy identification of the species. "Pulps" can be classified in boiled or non boiled (raw).
  2. fruit "purées-marks": semi-processed products obtained by thermal and mechanical treatment or, very rare, raw and then refined, operations by which all nonedible parts (cores, peels, etc.) are removed. "Purées-marks" are classified in boiled (the more usual case) and non boiled (raw).
  3. semi-processed juices: products obtained by cold pressure or very rare by other treatments (diffusion, extraction, etc.) followed by the preservation.


8.5.1 Technical processes for preservation of semi-processed fruit products

Preservation can be achieved by chemical means, by freezing or by pasteurization. The choice of preservation process for each individual case is a function of the semi-processed product type and the shelf life needed. Chemical preservation. - In many countries, in practice, this is carried out with sulphur dioxide, sodium benzoate, formic acid and, on a small scale, with sorbic acid and sorbates.

Preservation with sulphur dioxide is a widespread process because of its advantages: universal antiseptic action and very economic application. The drawbacks of SO2 are: SO2 turn firms the texture of some fruit species (pomaces), desulphiting is not always complete and recolouring of red fruits is not always complete after desulphitation.

Practical preservation dosage levels with SO2 for about 12 months is 0.18-0.20% SO2 (with respect to the product to be preserved).

This level could be reduced to 0.09% SO2 for 3 months and to 0.12% SO2 for 6 months preservation.

The preservation with sulphur dioxide is in use mainly for "pulps" and for "purées-marks".

Chemical preservation can be performed from a practical point of view by the utilisation of 6% SO2 water solutions or by direct introduction of sulphur dioxide gas in the product (for "purées-marks"). The preparation of 6% SO2 solutions is done by bubbling the gas from cylinders in cold water; from a 50 kg SO2 compressed gas cylinder results 830 l of 6% SO2 solution.

These SO2 solutions have to be stored in cool places, in closed receptacles and with periodic concentration control/check by titration or by density measurements approximate results - (see Table 8.5.3).

Preservation with sodium benzoate has the following advantages: it does not firm up the texture and does not modify fruit colour. The disadvantages are: it is not a universal antiseptic, its action needs an acid medium and the removal is partial. Sodium benzoate is in use for "pulps" and for "purées-marks" but less for fruit juices.

Practical dosage level for 12 months preservation is 0.18-0.20 % sodium benzoate, depending on the product to be preserved. Sodium benzoate is used as a solution in warm water; the dissolution water level has to be at maximum 10% reported to semi-processed product weight.

Formic acid preservation is performed mainly for semi-processed fruit juices at a dosage level of 0.2 % pure formic acid (100%). Formic acid is an antiseptic effective against yeasts, does not influence colour of products and is easily removed by boiling.

Formic acid could be diluted with water in order to insure a homogeneous distribution in the product to be preserved; water has to be at maximum 5 % of the product weight. Because of a potential effect of pectic substance degradation, formic acid is less in use for "pulps" and "purées-marks" preservation.

Sorbic acid used as potassium sorbate (easily water soluble) can be used for preservation of fruit semi-processed products at a dosage level of 0. 1% maximum. Advantages of sorbates are: they are completely harmless and without any influence on the organoleptic properties of semi-processed fruit products. Preservation by pasteurization. - As fruit has a low pH, preservation of semiprocessed fruit products could also be performed by pasteurization (heat treatment step at maximum temperature of 100° C), the length of this step varying with the size of the receptacles.

The advantages of this type of treatment are: hygienic process, which assure a long term preservation; the disadvantages are: need for air tight receptacles, and pectic substances could begin to deteriorate if the thermal treatment is too long.

Thermal preservation of fruit semi-processed products could also be done by a "selfpasteurization": very hot semi-processed products are filled into receptacles (e.g. metal cans) which are sealed and then inverted in order to sterilise the air which goes through the hot fruit mass. Preservation by freezing. - This is done on an industrial scale in some countries and can be done with or without sugar addition. The advantages of this process are: absence of added substances; very good preservation of quality of fruit constituents (pectic substances, vitamins, etc.) and good preservation of organoleptic properties (flavour, taste, colour). Freezing is done at about -20 to -30° C and storage at -10 to -18° C.

Freezing is applied mainly to semi-processed fruit products aimed at very high quality and high cost finished products. Technological flow-sheet for semi-processed fruit "pulps": chemical preservation.

SORTING is needed in order to remove sub-standard fruit (with moulds, with diseases, etc.) and all foreign bodies.

WASHING is obligatory in order to remove all impurities which cannot be eliminated at the processing step in finished products.

CORING and CUTTING, mainly for pomace fruits, has as main objective a better utilisation of preservation "space" in receptacles and is not mandatory; this will be defined by customer/ supplier agreements / standards. This operation is preferably performed by mechanical means.

PRESERVATION is carried out with the 6% SO2 solution which is added to the prepared fruits (placed in bulk in receptacles) in the quantity needed to obtain the preservation dosage level. For a better / homogeneous preservative distribution, the initial 6% SO2 solution could be diluted with water; however, the diluted solution (which will be filled in receptacles) has to be at a dosage level of less than 10% of the semi-processed product weight.

For some soft fruit, especially strawberries, preservation is done with a mix of 6% SO2 solution and calcium bisulphite solution (containing also 6% SO2).

Preparation of calcium bisulphite solution is done by the introduction of 30 kg of CaO in 1 m³ SO2 solution and mixing up to clarification. The resulting solution is mixed with the initial 6% SO2 solution, generally in a 1:1 ratio, but the ratio can be adapted to the fresh fruit texture. Firming of soft fruit texture by this treatment is based on the formation of calcium pectate with pectic substances from fruit tissues.

In the case of sodium benzoate, formic acid or potassium sorbate, the dosage levels to be used are as indicated above with the rule that it is not allowed to add more that 10% liquid in receptacles on the prepared fruits.

Preservation by pasteurization or "self-pasteurization" will need as additional steps: a) boiling with a minimum water addition (maximum 10%); b) filling of receptacles; c) hermetic closing followed by d) pasteurization or "self-pasteurization".

Some general technical data for the preparation of chemical preserved semi-processed fruit "pulps" are seen in Table 8.5.1.

TABLE 8.5.1 General technical processing data for semi-processed fruit "pulps"

Fruit species Preliminary operations Preservation means
Apples, pears, quinces Sorting, washing, coring, cutting Sulphur dioxide
Prunes, peaches, wax cherries, apricots Sorting, washing, stone removal (pitting) Sulphur dioxide or sodium benzoate
Cherries Sorting, washing Sulphur dioxide or sodium benzoate, sometimes with calcium bisulphite addition
Strawberries Sorting, washing Sulphur dioxide in mix with calcium bisulphite
Wild berries Sorting, washing Sulphur dioxide or sodium benzoate; in some cases with calcium bisulphite addition Technological flow-sheet for semi-processed "purée-marks"

The general technological flow-sheet includes the following operations:

SORTING and WASHING are obligatory and are carried out in a similar manner as for "pulps".

HEAT TREATMENT/BOILING is needed in order to soften the fruit tissues before refining. For some fruits as strawberry and wild berries, this step is not done and fruits are refined "raw" in order to preserve their flavour.

PULPING is performed with specific equipment - refiners or pulpers - which eliminate seeds, pits and other non edible parts (peels, cores, etc.).

PRESERVATION is carried out by chemical means, by freezing or by pasteurization.

The general technical / processing data for the manufacture of "purée-marks" are seen in Table 8.5.2.

TABLE 8.5.2 General technical processing data for semi-processed "purées - marks"

Fruit species Preliminary operations Preservation means
Apples, pears, quinces Sorting, washing, boiling, refining Sulphur dioxide; in less frequent cases formic acid or sodium benzoate
Prunes, peaches, wax cherries, apricots, Sorting, washing, boiling, refining Sulphur dioxide, formic acid or sodium benzoate; cherries freezing with or without sugar; self-pasteurization
Strawberry, wild berries Sorting, washing, refining Chemical preservation, freezing or self pasteurization


Fig. 8.5.1 shows a technological line for the preparation of semi-processed purée-marks".

Figure 8.5.1 Technological line for semi-processed fruit products

  1. Washing tank
  2. Vertical transporter
  3. Transport tubes
  4. Regulating plates
  5. Crushing machine
  6. Grating machine
  7. Preheating equipment
  8. Pulper
  9. Centrifugal pump
  10. Finisher
  11. Storage tank

From the storage tank 11, the product is transferred by pump to a mixing tank (mix with SO2)

TABLE 8.5.3 Correlation between density and concentration for SO2 solutions

Density at 15°C Concentration of solutions % SO2
1.0168 3.00
1.0181 3.25
1.0194 3.50
1.0206 3.75
1.0221 4.00
1.0234 4.25
1.0248 4.50
1.0261 4.75
1.0275 5.00
1.0289 5.25
1.0302 5.50
1.0315 5.75
1.0340 6.25
1.0353 6.50
1.0365 6.75
1.0377 7.00

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