Changes in quality characteristics of strawberry juice after equivalent high pressure, ultrasound, and pulsed electric fields processes
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Understanding the efficacy of viable emerging technologies in preserving overall quality attributes and antioxidant characteristics of fruit juices is of great interest. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of high pressure (HP), ultrasound (US), and pulsed electric fields (PEF) processes on natural microbiota inactivation, as well as changes in physicochemical attributes and phytochemical content of strawberry juice (SJ). HP at 300 MPa (1 min), US at 55 degrees C (3 min) and 517.1 mW/mL acoustic energy density, and PEF at 35 kV/cm (27 mu s) using monopolar square pulses with 2 mu s pulse width were applied, and then compared with a conventional thermal pasteurization treatment (72 degrees C, 15 s). The nonthermal processes were equivalent in terms ofEscherichia coli(E. coli) inactivation since the selected processing conditions led to almost identical inactivation level (at least 5-log) of inoculatedE. coli. The current study analyzes why these equivalent processes had different effect on SJ quality. All treatments significantly reduced the initial natural microbiota (i.e., total mesophilic aerobic bacteria and yeast-molds) below 2 log CFU/mL. No significant changes were observed on the total soluble solid content (7.83-8.00 degrees Brix), titratable acidity (0.79-0.84 g/100 mL), and pH (3.45-3.50; except in sonication) between SJ processed samples and the untreated ones (p > 0.05). HPP and PEF significantly promoted higher retention of total phenolic content (TPC) and radical scavenging activity (RSA) than thermal pasteurization, and significantly enhanced total anthocyanin content (TAC) compared with unprocessed SJ. HPP and PEF increased the TPC (4-5%), RSA (18-19%), and TAC (15-17%) in comparison with unprocessed SJ. Multivariate data analysis tools, i.e., principal component analysis (PCA) and hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA), were successfully applied for discrimination and classification of SJ samples based on the similarities or differences among physicochemical and phytochemical characteristics. PCA and HCA indicated that HPP- and PEF-treated samples had similar enhanced properties in terms of phytochemical content and were superior to sonicated, thermally pasteurized, and unprocessed samples. The multivariate data analysis methods were very useful to compare and classify SJ quality characteristics as a function of the processing technology. This study demonstrated that the application of the equivalent processing approach may reveal new opportunities to produce equivalent or even enhanced quality fruit juices.