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Keywords:

  • Cucumis melo L.;
  • effective diffusivity;
  • hydrodynamic model;
  • pulsed vacuum osmotic dehydration;
  • stress at rupture;
  • sucrose solution

Summary

The influence of vacuum time and solution concentration on mass transfer and mechanical properties of osmodehydrated melon cubes has been studied. Pulsed vacuum osmotic dehydration (PVOD) was carried out at 30 °C for 4 h, using sucrose solutions (40, 50 or 60°Brix) and applying a vacuum pulse (100 mbar for 5, 10 or 15 min). Kinetics of water loss, solid gain and stress at rupture were analysed, as well as effective diffusivities using the hydrodynamic model. The increase in solution concentration favoured water removal, but no significant effect of vacuum time was observed. The use of less concentrated solutions coupled to the action of vacuum pulse resulted in greater solid uptake. Samples subjected to PVOD using 60°Brix sucrose solution presented greater water loss, lower sugar uptake and better maintenance of fresh fruit texture throughout the process. Diffusion coefficients estimated by the hydrodynamic model showed a good fit to the experimental data.