We developed a novel rapid hygrothermal pasteurization (RHP) method using saturated water vapor with a dew point of 100 °C. In the present study, the effects of RHP on microbiological quality and quality attributes such as color changes, firmness and ascorbic acid content on many fresh-cut fruits and vegetables (cabbage, cucumber, carrot, cherry tomato, bell pepper, strawberry, pineapple and melon) were investigated. The RHP was performed within a second by free-falling samples through a cylindrical processing chamber filled with steam. The RHP resulted in a 0.7-2.0 log order reduction in the numbers of naturally inoculated mesophilic bacteria. Furthermore, the RHP induced no significant changes in color and firmness of samples, except on the leafy vegetable, cabbage. Ascorbic acid was also retained approximately 80% and above. These results indicate that the RHP is a clean and effective method for decontaminating mesophilic bacteria on fresh fruits and vegetables with minimal changes in quality. Industrial relevance: In fresh-cut industry, an effective and risk-free decontamination technology is required for use in place of a conventional method, washing by chlorine that can produce carcinogenic chlorinated by-products. In this study, the rapid hygrothermal pasteurization (RHP) method using saturated water vapor was invented and their ability for applying minimal processing was evaluated. The results showed that RHP, without using chemicals, can reduce microorganism load and preserve quality attributes in many kinds of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. Therefore, RHP could be used as a novel method, which can be generally applicable to fresh-cut fruits and vegetables in the food industry.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering