9.3 Fresh vegetable storage
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The vegetables can be stored, in some specific natural conditions, in fresh state, that is without significant modifications of their initial organoleptic properties. Fresh vegetable storage can be short term; this was briefly covered under temporary storage before processing. Also fresh vegetable storage can be long term during the cold season in some countries and in this case it is an important method for vegetable preservation in the natural state.
In order to assure preservation in long term storage, it is necessary to reduce respiration and transpiration intensity to a minimum possible; this can be achieved by:
Vegetables for storage must conform to following conditions: they must be of one of the autumn or winter type variety; be at edible maturity without going past this stage; be harvested during dry days; be protected from rain, sun heat or wind; be in a sound state and clean from soil; be undamaged.
From the time of harvest and during all the period of their storage vegetables are subject to respiration and transpiration and this is on account of their reserve substances and water content. The more the intensity of these two natural processes are reduced, the longer sound storage time will be and the more losses will be reduced.
For this reason, vegetables have to be handled and transported as soon as possible in the storage conditions (optimal temperature and air relative humidity for the given species). Even in these optimal conditions storage will generate losses in weight which are variable and depend upon the species.
Some optimal storage conditions are shown in table 9.3.1
TABLE 9.3.1 Optimal conditions for fresh vegetable storage
|Temperature, °C||Relative humidity, %|
9.4 Vegetable drying/dehydration
9.4.1 Vegetable dehydration
General technical data for vegetable dehydration in tunnels are shown in table 9.4.1.
TABLE 9.4.1 Technical data for vegetable dehydration in tunnels
A schematic flow-sheet for vegetable dehydration in belt driers is seen in Fig. 9.4.1.
Figure 9.4.1 General technological flow-sheet for vegetable dehydration in belt dryers
Belt dryer/dehydration equipment is illustrated in Fig. 9.4.2.
Figure 9.4.2 Belt dryer
9.4.2 Technology for vegetable powder processing
This technology has been developed in recent years with applications mainly for potatoes (flour, flakes, granulated), carrots (powder) and red tomatoes (powder). In order to obtain these finished products there are two processes:
a) drying of vegetables down to a final water content below 4% followed by grinding, sieving and packing of products;
b) vegetables are transformed by boiling and sieving into purées which are then dried on heated surfaces (under vacuum preferably) or by spraying in hot air.
Industrial installations that can be used for these products and technological data are summarised below:
TABLE 9.4.2 Technological data for vegetable powders
9.4.3 Packing and storage of dried and powdered vegetables
Dried vegetables can suffer significant modifications that bring about their deterioration during storage. The factors that determine these degradations impose at same time the type of packaging materials and storage conditions for packaged products.
The main factor in maintaining the quality of dried products is to follow the maximum moisture contents that have to be as close as possible to the limits indicated in Table 9.4.4. The moisture content of dried vegetables is not constant because of their hygroscopicity and is always in equilibrium with relative humidity of air in storage rooms. Technical solutions for maintaining a low dehydrated products moisture are:
a) storage in stores with air relative humidity below 78%;
b) use packages that are water vapour proof. The most efficient packages are tin boxes or drums (mainly for long term storage periods); combined packages (boxes, bags, etc.) from complexes (carton with metallic sheets, plastic materials, etc.) mainly for small packages. One solution for some dried vegetables may be the use of waterproof plywood drums.
Modern solutions are oriented not only to the maintaining product moisture during storage but also reducing this parameter by the use of desiccants (substances which absorb moisture) introduced in packages, hermetically closed.
A desiccant in current use is calcium oxide. Granulated calcium oxide is introduced in small bags from a material which is permeable to water vapour but which does not permit the desiccant to escape into products. With desiccants, product moisture can be reduced to even below 4%, and this inhibits or reduces the biochemical and microbiological processes during storage.
Another factor that can deteriorate dried/dehydrated vegetables is atmospheric oxygen through the oxidative phenomena that it produces. In order to eliminate the action of this agent some packing methods under vacuum or in inert gases (carbon dioxide or nitrogen) are in use, applied mainly for packing dried carrots in order to avoid beta-carotene oxidation in beta-ionone (foreign smell, discoloration, etc.). In order to avoid the action of oxygen it is also possible to add ascorbic acid as antioxidant (for example in carrot powder).
Sun or artificial light action on dehydrated vegetables generally causes discoloration which can be avoided by using opaque packaging materials.
Dehydrated vegetable compression (especially for roots) to form blocks with a weight of 50-600 g, is practiced sometimes; it has as advantages the reduction of evaporation surface and contact with atmospheric oxygen and volume reduction. Dehydrated vegetables are compressed at about 300 at. Compressed blocks are packaged in heat sealed plastic materials.
Storage temperature has an important role because this reduces or inhibits the speed of all physico-chemical, biochemical and microbiological processes, and thus prolongs storage period. The storage temperature should be below 25° C (and preferably 15° C); lower temperatures (0-10° C) help maintain taste, colour and water rehydration ratio and also, to some extent, vitamin C.
9.4.4 Potato crisp/chip processing
The most important steps involved in potato crisps processing are:
TABLE 9.4.3 Dehydrated vegetable potential defects and means to prevent them
TABLE 9.4.4 Moisture and shipping factors for some dehydrated vegetables
|Product||Form/cut||Moisture %||Weight kg/m³|
|Bean (green)||20 nun cut||5||1.6|
|Beet||6 mm strips||5||1.6-1.9|
|Cabbage||6-12 mm shreds||4||0.7-0.9|
|Carrots||5-8 mm strips||5||3-5|
|Okra||6 mm slices||8|
|Pepper (sweet)||5 mm strips||7|
|Potato (Irish)||5-8 mm strips||6||2.9-3.2|
|Tomato||7-10 mm slices||35|
Selection and storage
It is important to select potatoes of high specific gravity since this characteristic indicates superior yield and lower oil absorption. It is even more important to select potatoes with low reducing sugar contents or to store them at temperatures conducive to the minimising of these substances.
Sprouting and fungal damage must also be minimised by the storage conditions.
The ideal peeling operation should only remove a very thin outer layer of the potato, leaving no eyes, blemishes, or other material for later removal by hand trimming. It should not significantly change the physical or chemical characteristics of the remaining tissue.
Preferably peeling should use small amount of water and result in minimal effluent; compromises will have to be made in all of these aspects of peeling.
First, the potatoes are thoroughly washed, not only for sanitary reasons, but also to prevent dirt of grit from abrading the equipment the tubers will dater contact. Washing may take place in streams, as the potatoes are being conveyed by water streams, or in equipment provided with means for scrubbing the potato with brushes or rubber rolls.
Figure 9.4.3 Plate vacuum dryer
Figure 9.4.4 Drum dryer
Figure 9.4.5 Drying installation by spray in heated air
In barrel-type washers, potatoes are cleaned by being tumbled and rubbed against each other and against the sides of the barrel while they are immersed in, or sprayed with, water.
After washing, the potatoes are allowed to drain, usually on mesh conveyors, and they travel over an inspection belt where foreign material and defective tubers are removed. The more common peeling methods are abrasion, lye immersion, and steam.
Abrasion peelers which may be either batch or continuous, use disks or rollers coated with grit to grind away the potato surface. An important design feature is to ensure that all surfaces of the tuber are equally exposed to the rasping action. The peel fragments are flushed out of the unit by water sprays.
Such systems work best with uniform, round, undamaged potatoes. Some of the advantages of abrasion peelers are their simplicity, compactness, low cost, and convenience. They are particularly suitable for peeling potatoes intended for chipping, since they do not chemically alter the surface layers. About 10% of the original tuber weight is lost through abrasion peeling prior to chipping.
The peeled potatoes are cut into slices from 1/15 to 1/25 in. by rotary slicers. Centrifugal force presses the tuber against stationary gauging shoes and knives. Thickness is varied, not only to meet consumer preferences, but also to fit the condition of the tubers and the frying temperature and time.
Slices produced at any one time must be very uniform in thickness, however, in order to obtain uniformly coloured chips. Slices with rough or torn surfaces lose excess solubles from ruptured cells and absorb larger amounts of fat.
It is necessary to remove the starch and other material released from the cut cells from the surface of slices so that the slices will separate readily and completely during frying. The slices are washed in stainless steel wire-mesh cylinders or drums rotating in a rectangular stainless steel tank. After washing and an additional rinse in similar equipment, the potatoes may or may not be dried.
The capacity of the fryer is generally the limiting factor in the process line. Most manufacturers currently use continuous fryers but some batch equipment is still employed.
Modern continuous fryers have the following essential elements: (1) a tank of hot oil in which the chips are cooked; (2) a means for heating and circulating the oil; (3) a filter for removing particles from oil; (4) a conveyor to carry chips out of the tank; (5) a reservoir in which oil is heated for adding to the circulating frying oil and (6) vapour-collecting hoods above the tank. Temperatures normally used are from 350 to 375° F at the receiving end and 320 to 345° F at the exit end.
The oil used for deep-fat frying of potato chips has two functions:
(i) it serves as a medium for transferring heat from a thermal source to the tuber slices;
(ii) it becomes an ingredient of the finished product.
Use of highly refined oil is of great importance in flavour and stability of the crisps. Flavour, texture, and appearance are affected both by the amount of oil absorbed and its characteristics as it exists in the crisp (i.e. not necessarily its initial chemical and physical parameters).
Oils change continuously during the frying process but the heat abuse resulting from the crisp cooking is relatively mild. Temperatures rarely rise above 385° F at any point.
Better control over crisp colour could be obtained if the final stage of moisture removal could be achieved without the browning reaction that always accompanies it in the frying process.
Crisps may be sorted for size after frying, with the larger crisps being diverted to the bulk packs and larger pouches and the smaller pieces used for vending machine packs and other individual service containers. Potato crisp sizing is also accomplished by separating the peeled potatoes into large and small sizes, which are then sliced and fried separately.
The crisps are salted immediately after they leave the fryer. It is important that the fat be liquid at this point to cause maximum adherence of the granules. Powders containing barbecue spices, cheese, or other speciality materials may be added at this point. The salt may contain added enrichment materials or antioxidants.
After salting, the crisps pass on to a conveyor belt where they are visually inspected and off-colour material is removed. I the crisps are allowed to cool before packaging, better adherence of salt and flavour powders is obtained.
Some consumers prefer the hard, curled-up crisp that is characteristic of the hand-kettle type of operation. The special flavour of the hand-kettle crisp is said to be due, at least partly, to the starch retained on the cut surfaces of the potato slices as a result of the omission of a washing process after slicing. Starch-covered slices tend to stick together in the fryer so it is necessary to use devices to prevent clumping.
The principal factors affecting potato crisp acceptability are piece size, colour, and of course, flavour. These factors are controllable primarily by selection of the raw material, adjustment of processing conditions, and packaging.
If the frying oil is stabilised and has not deteriorated through use, and if the packaging is opaque and has a low moisture vapour transmittance rate (MVTR), a shelf-life of 4-6 weeks should be achieved when crisps are stored at temperatures of about 70° F.
Once potato crisps are in the bag, the three forms of quality loss which have the greatest effect on consumer acceptance are breakage, absorption of moisture with loss of crispiness, and fat oxidation leading to development of rancid odours.
The mechanical abuse causing breaking of the crisps can be partially prevented by using stiff packaging material, making the package "plump" with contained air, and avoiding crushing in the shipping case.
Absorption of moisture is prevented largely by proper choice of packaging material. Cellophane coated with various moisture barriers has proved to be a satisfactory pouch films for the relatively short shelf-life expected (generally stated to be 4-6 weeks).
Light (especially fluorescent light) accelerates oxidation, so that opaque packaging material must be used to obtain maximum shelf-life.
Potato crisps are considered commercially unacceptable when they have a moisture content above 3%, which is in equilibrium with a relative humidity of about 32%. The containers should have a high degree of resistance to moisture-vapour transfer.
If pouches are used, foil-containing films are preferable, since they not only resist moisture-vapour transfer but reflect light.
9.5 Vegetable juices and concentrated products
9.5.1 Vegetable juices
Vegetable juices are natural products constituted from cellular juice and a part of crushed pulp, from the tissues of some vegetables. These juices contain all valuable substances from the vegetables: vitamins, sugars, acids, mineral salts and pectic substances. The most important of these products is tomato juice; in a lower proportion there are also other juices (carrots, beet, sauerkraut, etc.).
188.8.131.52 Tomato juice
This product is characterised not only by its organoleptical properties (taste, colour, flavour) but also by its vitamin content close to those of fresh tomatoes. Modem technology is oriented to a maximum maintenance of organoleptic properties and of vitamin content.
At same time, it is important to assure juice uniformity by avoiding cellulosic particle sedimentation. Juice stability is assured by a flash pasteurization which assures the destruction of natural micro-flora, while keeping the initial properties.
The modern technological flow-sheet covers the following main operations:
PRE-WASHING is carried out by immersion in water, cold or heated up to 50° C (possibly with detergents to eliminate traces of pesticides). This operation is facilitated by bubbling compressed air in the immersion vessel/equipment.
WASHING is performed with water sprays, which in modern installations have a pressure of 15 at or more.
SORTING/CONTROL on rolling sorting tables enables the removal of non-standard tomatoes - with green parts, yellow coloured, etc.
CRUSHING in special equipment.
PREHEATING at 55-60° C facilitates the extraction, dissolves pectic substances and contributes to the maintaining of vitamins and natural pigments. In some modern installations, this step is carried out under vacuum at 630-680 mm Hg and in very short time.
EXTRACTION of juice and part of pulp (maximum 80%) is performed in special equipment / tomato extractors with the care to avoid excessive air incorporation. In some installations, as an additional special care, a part of pulp is removed with continuous centrifugal separators.
DE-AERATION under high vacuum of the juice brings about its boiling at 35-40° C.
HOMOGENISATION is done for mincing of pulp particles and is mandatory in order to avoid future potential product "separation" in two layers.
FLASH Pasteurization at 130-150° C, time = 8-12 see, is followed by cooling at 90° C, which is also the filling temperature in receptacles (cans or bottles).
CLOSING OF RECEPTACLES is followed by their inversion for about 5 to 7 minutes.
COOLING has to be carried out intensely.
Full cans do not need further pasteurization because the bacteria that have potentially contaminated the tomato juice during filling are easily destroyed at 90° C due to natural juice acidity.
For bottles, it may be possible to avoid further sterilisation if the following conditions can be respected: washing and sterilising of receptacles, cap sterilisation (with formic acid), filling and capping under aseptic conditions, in a space with UV lamps. In so far as this is quite difficult to achieve it may be necessary to submit bottles to a pasteurization in water baths.
The main characteristics of high quality tomato juice are:
In traditional processes it is recommended to:
|Receptacle size||Pre-heating||Time of pasteurization|
|0.33 1||60° C||40 minutes|
|0.501||60° C||45 minutes|
|0.66 1||60° C||55 minutes|
|0.751||60° C||60 minutes|
|1.0 litre||60° C||70 minutes|
184.108.40.206 Carrot juice
This product represents an important dietetic product due to its high soluble pectin content. Technological flow-sheet is oriented to the maintaining of as high as possible a pectin content and covers the following steps:
BLANCHING in steam for 20 minutes
JUICE In the pressed juice will then be incorporated 25% of grated carrot (non pressed)
HOMOGENISATION in colloidal mills
ACIDIFICATION with 0.25% citric or tartric acid
FILLING in receptacles (bottles or tinplate cans)
Pasteurization at 100° C for 30 minutes.
The main characteristics of a good quality carrot juice:
220.127.116.11 Red beet juice
The product is obtained following this technological flow-sheet: washing, cleaning, steam treatment / steaming (30-35 min at 1050 C), pressing, strain through small hole sieve, filling in receptacles, tight sealing / closing, sterilisation (25 min at 1 15° C). In order to improve taste, the juice is acidified with 0.3% citric or tartric acid.
18.104.22.168 Sauerkraut juice
Sauerkraut juice is produced in some countries for its dietetic value (lactic acid and vitamin C content) and its refreshing taste. The juice which is the result of the fermentation of lactic acid from cabbage, mainly from sliced sauerkraut, is used.
The juice must be the result of a normal lactic fermentation, i.e. without butyric fermentation or other deterioration.
A good quality juice must have an acidity of 1.4% lactic acid and a content of maximum 2.5% salt; this is obtained by the mixing of various sauerkraut qualities.
The collected juice (from sauerkraut production) is heated slightly in order to eliminate CO2 gas and to obtain protein coagulation. Filtration of juice is the next technological step, followed by filling in receptacles, closing of receptacles and pasteurization at 75-80° C for 4-5 minutes.
9.5.2 Concentrated tomato products
22.214.171.124 Tomato paste
The product with highest production volumes among concentrated products is tomato paste which is manufactured in a various range of concentrations, up to 44% refractometric extract. Tomato paste is the product obtained by removal of peel and seeds from tomatoes, followed by concentration of juice by evaporation under vacuum.
In some cases, in order to prolong production period, it may be advisable or possible to preserve crushed tomatoes with sulphur dioxide as described under semi-processed fruit "pulps".
Technological flow-sheets run according to equipment/ installation lay-outs, which are especially designed for this finished product. Manufacturing steps fall into three successive categories:
a) Obtaining juice from raw material. Preliminary operations (pre-washing, washing and sorting / control) are carried out in the same conditions as for manufacturing of "drinking" tomato juice described above. Next operation is removal of seeds from raw tomatoes: tomato crushing and seed separation with a centrifugal separator.
Tomato pulp is pre-heated at 55-60° C and then passed to the equipment group for sieving: pulper, refiner and superrefiner with sieves of 1.5 mm, 0.8 mm and 0.4-0.5 mm respectively in order to give the smoothest possible consistency to the tomato paste.
b) Juice is concentrated by vacuum evaporation, a technological step which in modern installations runs continuously, tomato paste from the last evaporation step being at the specified concentration.
In continuous installations with three evaporation steps (evaporating bodies), the juice is submitted in step / body I to pasteurization at 85-900 C for 15 min and this will determine the microbiological stability of finished product. Vacuum degree corresponding to this temperature is 330 mm Hg.
In evaporating bodies II and III, temperatures are around 42-46° C and vacuum at 680700 mm Hg.
Juice concentration occurs gradually and continuously in the three evaporating bodies.
The advantages of continuous concentration are as follows:
- the taste, colour, flavour, "shine" and consistency of tomato paste are improved because:
i) the real concentration is performed in evaporating bodies II and III at low temperatures (42-46° C) and
ii) the whole concentration process time from the input of juice in body I until the output of paste from body III is of about 1 hour (for paste with 30-35% refractometric extract).
- production capacity is raised by about 30% as compared to discontinuous installations with the same evaporation surface;
- the steam consumption is reduced by 60% because heating of bodies II and II is done with vapours resulting from juice evaporation in body I (double effect); water and electricity consumptions are also reduced by 30-40 % .
c) Tomato paste pasteurization assures the microbiological stability of the product. For this purpose, the paste coming out from concentration equipment is passed continuously and in a "forced" mode through a tubular pasteurizer from which it emerge at a temperature of 90-92° C.
Usual commercial tomato paste types are at concentrations of 24%, 28% and 32% refractometric extract. Sometimes it is possible to obtain a tomato paste with a concentration of 44% refractometric extract; for this purpose it is necessary to eliminate a part of cellulose from tomatoes, an operation performed in a separating turbine.
Tomato paste storage and preservation is carried out after packing which is done usually in drums, metallic cans or glass jars; some modern equipment has been developed for packing in aluminium bags. As far as the concentration of tomato paste is concerned it is not possible to reduce water content down to 30% which corresponds to a water activity aw of 0.700.75 (minimum limit of mould growing), it is necessary to take special measures (e. g pasteurization, cold storage or salt addition).
Salt is not a preservative in itself but contributes to the lowering of water activity.
In drums, the preservation of tomato paste with minimum 30% refractometric extract is carried out in two ways:
- the hot paste (about 90° C) flows directly from pasteurization equipment into drums that have been previously steamed;
- the paste is cooled down to 30° C through a heat exchanger and is introduced into drums that have been previously steamed.
For preservation purposes, it is possible to add 3-8% salt.
Preservation with 3% salt must be carried out respecting the following criteria:
a) processing of a healthy raw material;
b) thorough washing and control;
c) pasteurization of concentrated paste and use of well prepared drums. Paste in drums has to be stored in cold storage rooms during the hot season.
Preservation in big metal cans of 5 and 10 kg capacity of tomato paste with a minimum of 30% refractometric extract can be achieved without sterilisation if the following conditions are respected:
a) sterilisation by steam of cans and covers;
b) filling of paste at 92-94° C;
c) airtight sealing/ closing of cans;
d) invert cans and then
e) air cooling.
For small packages (tinplate cans of 1/10-1/1 or glass jars of same capacity) it is usual to use pasteurized paste, as hot as possible (92-94° C). The receptacles are first sterilised by steam. After airtight sealing, the receptacles are kept in boiling water for a short time in order to sterilize their inner surface and the paste in contact with inner receptacle surface. In some countries small receptacles are not further sterilised if the manufacturing is carried out in perfect hygienic and sanitary conditions.
Packing in small tinned aluminium tubes is carried out with concentrated paste, pasteurized and hot.
Good quality tomato paste is an homogenous mass, with a high density, without foreign bodies (seeds, peel, etc.), with a red colour, and an agreeable taste and smell, close to those of fresh tomatoes.
There are usually three types of tomato paste: 36, 30 and 24 which have refractometric extracts of respectively 34-38%, 28-32% and 24-26%. Paste of good quality must have a volatile acidity of maximum 0.15% as lactic acid. An 8% salt addition is accepted.
126.96.36.199 Concentrated tomato juice
Concentrated tomato juice is a product with 17-19 % refractometric extract and is a homogenous mass, finely sieved, without foreign bodies / and without any evidence of deterioration. A good quality product has a red colour, an agreeable and specific taste and smell.
Modern technology uses the same installations, equipment and flow-sheets for concentrated tomato juice as for the production of tomato paste; the final concentration is thus regulated between the above specified limits.
The concentrated tomato juice is filled in receptacles (metal tinplate cans or glass bottles) and then pasteurized at 100° C during 15-25 minutes according to receptacle type.
With modern production lines it should be possible to pass the concentrated tomato juice through a tubular pasteurizer and then pack aseptically and cool, without the need to pasteurize the receptacles.
188.8.131.52 Tomato sauces
Under the USA Code of Federal Regulation 7 CFR 52, 1991 tomato sauce is the concentrated product prepared from the liquid extract from mature, sound, whole tomatoes, the sound residue from preparing such tomatoes for canning, or the residue from partial extraction of juice, or any combination of these ingredients, to which is added salt and spices and to which may be added one or more nutritive sweetening ingredients, a vinegar or vinegars, and onion, garlic, or other vegetable flavouring ingredients. The refractive index of the tomato sauce at 20° C is not < 1.3461.
These products are widespread in some countries and are used in order to spice some meals. Sauces can be obtained from fresh tomatoes or from concentrated products (tomato paste or concentrated tomato juice), those from fresh tomatoes being of superior quality.
Technological processing covers the following steps: concentrated juice processing, addition of flavour/taste ingredients (salt, sugar, vinegar, spices, etc.), boiling, fine sieving, filling of receptacles, closing and pasteurization (45 min at 85° C).
Tomato sauces which can be sweet, more or less spicy are prepared according to specific recipes.
9.5.3 Production accidents and product defects; means to avoid them
184.108.40.206 Tomato juice
- Weak colour of tomato juice can be avoided by the utilisation of mature tomatoes and with a pulp of as red a colour as possible.
220.127.116.11 Tomato paste and concentrated juice
- Presence of sand is caused by inadequate washing or by a significant contamination of raw material; this can be prevented by a more intensive pre-washing and washing of tomatoes.
- There may be mould especially at the surface of tomato paste packed in drums. Prevention:
- Fermentation is manifested by a weak alcohol smell or by a weak vinegar taste; when the fermentation is more advanced there is gas production in the product mass. Prevention: as for moulding prevention.
18.104.22.168 Tomato sauces
- Surface of the product turns black at the contact zone with air; this is due to the action of iron on the tannins from spices, tomato seeds, etc. Prevention:
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