Abstract: Freeze-dried boneless skinless cubes of pink (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha), sockeye (Oncorhynchus nerka), and chum (Oncorhynchus keta) salmon were prepared and physical properties evaluated. To minimize freeze-drying time, the kinetics of dehydration and processing yields were investigated. The physical characteristics of the final product including bulk density, shrinkage, hardness, color, and rehydration kinetics were determined. Results showed that freeze-dried salmon cubes from each of the 3 Pacific salmon species can be produced with a moisture content of less that 10% and aw less 0.4 and freeze-drying time of 9 h. Processing yields ranged from 26% to 28.4%, depending on fish species. Shrinkage was less than 12% and rehydration of freeze-dried cubes was rapid. The value-added products developed have the potential to be utilized as ingredients for ready-to-eat soups, as snack food, salad topping, and baby finger-food.
Practical Application: Freeze-drying removes water from food products without heating them; therefore, this type of drying process yields very high-quality dried foods. In this study, a freeze-dry process was established to produce small cubes of Alaska pink, sockeye, and chum salmon. The goals were to shorten typical freeze-drying time while producing acceptable product characteristics. The freeze-drying process developed took only 9 h to remove about 97% of the moisture of diced Pacific salmon fillets. The freeze-dried salmon cubes produced can be used as ingredients for dehydrated ready-to-eat soups, as baby finger-foods, or as salad toppings.