Experimental investigation of carbon dioxide (CO₂) laser perforation as a potential skin pretreatment for sugar infusion process of frozen blueberries Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/v118rj79d

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  • The purpose of this research was to examine the feasibility of carbon dioxide (CO2) laser perforation and its potential utilization as a novel skin pretreatment for the sugar infusion process of IQF (individually quick frozen) blueberries. In the first study, IQF blueberries were treated with varying degrees of laser perforation (i.e., 3 levels of perforation density x 3 levels of perforation depth = 9 treatment combinations) and then subjected to stepwise sugar infusion using low solution concentration increments (5 °Brix/day) to a final °Brix of 70 with a high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) solution. The effects of the perforation density: depth combinations were evaluated against a traditional mechanical treatment in terms of fruit weight change and final product characteristics. A clear, systematic tendency of increasing final fruit weight was observed as the two perforation parameters were increased. The increase in the two parameters also contributed to producing infused blueberries that were maintaining the original shape and appearance with reduced product shrinkage and texture hardening as a result of enhanced solute impregnation. Due to the invasive nature of the treatment, blueberries that were subjected to the mechanical treatment showed considerable rupture at the end of the infusion process. The second study was carried out under a sugar infusion condition using higher solution concentration increments (10, 20 and 30 °Brix/day). Due to the increased osmotic gradient, the time required for the fruit to reach the target soluble solid content (70 ± 0.5 °Brix) was markedly shortened. A systematic increase in the final fruit weight with increasing perforation density and depth was again observed. However, only the fruit that was subjected to the greatest laser perforation exhibited promoted solute gain, thereby attaining a moderate final process yield with reduced product shrinkage. Overall, the results of the two studies demonstrate the ability of CO₂ laser perforation as a non-contact, minimally invasive skin pretreatment for the sugar infusion of frozen blueberries that significantly enhances solute impregnation, leading to improved process yield, process efficiency, and final product quality.
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