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Edible coatings to extend the shelf life of ready-to-eat prickly pearPrickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) is an excellent fruit, rich in antioxidant compounds, fiber and other bioactive compound that make it a functional food. However, the fruit peeling represent a critical issue because it makes the fruit unattractive to the consumers who do not know how to avoid the thorns present in its shell.
Egyptian scientists have studied the effect of edible coatings applied on the surface of the minimally processed prickly pear. The research was conducted in the 2011 and 2012 cultural season.
The objectives of the study were:
- To study the application of xanthan gum and guar gum in retardation of deterioration of minimally processed prickly pear by extending the shelf-life.
- To evaluate the variation of fresh weight loss, firmness, total soluble solids, titratable acidity, total carotenoids and microbial load in coated and uncoated samples during storage of 9 days at 0°C.
- To develop a mathematical model to assess the fresh weight loss during storage.
The scientists have concluded that the application of these natural polymers as edible coatings on the surface of minimally processed prickly pear allows a reduction in the respiration rate and along with fresh weight loss. In addition, the application of edible coatings is an easy, environmentally friendly and cheap technology that can extend the shelf-life of the minimally processed prickly pear.
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