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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1141: III International Conference on Fresh-Cut Produce: Maintaining Quality and Safety

Preparation and handling of fresh-cut root vegetables

Author:   M. Edelenbos
Keywords:   chemical constituents, peeling, cutting, packaging, sensory quality
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1141.8
Abstract:
Root vegetables are among the most important food crops consumed worldwide. Root vegetables include true roots, tubers, and hypocotyls with a subterranean habit. The value of fresh-cut root vegetables lies in their convenience, freshness, and health properties. High-quality fresh-cut products can only be obtained from raw materials of high quality. The initial quality of the raw material is determined by the genetic background, climatic conditions, cultivation practices, soil type, maturity at harvest, and time in storage. The first step in handling is to wash and polish roots and to screen, sort and grade them to remove soil and defective roots. The washed product is peeled using a rotation carborundum drum or by knives to remove the outer skin. In this process, aroma and health-promoting compounds are lost, as they are concentrated in the periderm. Up to 30% of the mass is lost with trimming and mechanical abrasion. Peeling and cutting have a derived effect on the quality: increased respiration and moisture loss, evaporation of volatile compounds, mixing of enzymes and substrates, and formation of volatile compounds, polyphenols, and other secondary metabolites. Quality is less affected by sharp than by blunt knives. Washing after cutting removes cell exudate and lowers the incidence of microorganisms. However, washing also dilutes the sensory and health-promoting compounds. In spin drying, juice and washing water are removed, and that affects flavor and taste. Processing has no or little effect on the texture, but enhances tissue browning. Produce will dry out and lose moisture and change flavor if not packaged in appropriate material with suitable moisture- and gas-barrier properties. Fresh-cut root vegetables are not prone to physical damage during distribution and retail due to their firm structure. Low temperature and short storage time are the most important factors to preserve the fresh-cut quality of root vegetables.

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