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within the Institute of Food Science and Engineering

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Pickle Science and Technology

Evaluating Pickles

    The Pickle Science and Technology Program in the Department of Food Science is dedicated to increasing product value by improving production and quality of pickled vegetables.  The program, which enjoys significant industry support, includes the annual national evaluation of pickled vegetable products.  Research, technical service and training are provided to assist suppliers and manufacturers of all types of acidified and fermented vegetables.

    The emphasis of the Program is to apply science-based principles obtained through research to improve commercial pickled vegetable production operations and product quality. Experienced scientists use state-of-the-art research and processing equipment to address technical challenges facing the pickling industry.

     Examples of issues currently being studied include:

      Management/disposal of brine: The disposal of waste brine is expensive and has significant environmental implications. Recycling of brine could significantly reduce this problem. However, softening enzymes, particularly polygalacturonase, build up in pickling brine as the brine is reused. A process using Pure-Flo B80, developed by the UA Pickle Science and Technology Program is now widely used by industry to remove these softening enzymes. Work is underway to develop a continuous brine processing system which will further improve the efficiency of brine usage.

    Use of waste products: Discarded oversized cucumbers represent about 15 percent of the cucumbers produced for pickle manufacturing. Studies are underway focusing on the development of usable products for these currently unusable cucumbers. Two volatiles that can be extracted from these cucumbers have been found to be effective inhibitors of mold, yeast, and some pathogenic microorganisms. These volatiles have potential for use in a variety of food and cosmetic products, supplying a market for these waste cucumbers.

     Packaging technology: Heat tolerant PET containers are being tested for processing pickle products. As a result of this research, two pickle companies are test marketing sweet pickle products in PET. Further research is needed to improve the composition of PET materials, sealing of PET containers, and stabilization of flavors.

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