Potential application of hot rehydration alone or in combination with hydrogen peroxide to control pectin methylesterase activity and microbial load in cold-stored intermediate-moisture sun-dried figs
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Sun-dried figs contain a considerable amount of pectin methylesterase (PME) activity (22 μM COOH/ min/g). The enzyme causes softening and loss of desired gummy texture in cold-stored intermediate-moisture (IM) sun-dried figs brought to a 28% to 29% moisture range. Partial reduction of PME activity (28%) delayed undesirable textural changes in IM figs rehydrated at 80°C for 16 min. The heat treatment did not cause a considerable reduction in microbial load. However, the addition of 2.5% H2O2 to the rehydratlon medium at 80°C reduced the initial total mesophilic aerobic count of figs by at least 90% and turned the figs from a brown color to a desirable and stable yellow-light brown. The in situ fig catalase remains after rehydration at 80°C. Thus, by reducing the contact period of figs with H2O2 or by pureeing figs, it is possible to eliminate residual H2O2 and to obtain safe and SO2-free light-colored fig products.