Abstract: High hydrostatic pressure (HHP) processing improves the shelf life of avocado paste without a significant impact on flavor; however, scarce information is available on biochemical modifications during its extended storage period. The present study focused on the changes in oxidative enzyme activities of pressurized avocado paste (600 MPa for 3 min) during refrigerated storage (45 d at 4 °C). Aerobic plate counts (APC), lactic acid bacteria counts (LAB), pH, and instrumental color were also evaluated during storage.
Processing with HHP caused a decrease in polyphenol oxidase (PPO) and lipoxygenase (LOX) activities, resulting in residual enzyme levels of 50.72% and 55.16%, respectively. Although instrumental color values didn't change significantly during the evaluated storage period, both enzymes (PPO and LOX) recuperated their activities at 10 to 15 d of storage, reached the original values observed in the fresh paste, and then started a declining phase until the end of the storage period. Pulp pH presented a consistent decline during the first 20 d of storage. LAB counts were very low during storage, discarding lactic acid production as responsible for the observed pH decline. Enzyme reactivation, cell disruption, and a gradual migration of intracellular components such as organic acids are herein proposed as the main mechanisms for the deterioration of HHP treated avocado paste during its refrigerated storage.
Practical Application: At the present, HHP is the most effective commercial nonthermal technology to process avocado paste when compared to thermal and chemical alternatives. Although it has proven to be an excellent product-technology match, little information is known on the biochemical changes that take place in the product during its refrigerated shelf life. Biochemical reactions during storage are important, since they can influence avocado paste nutritional and flavor qualities at the time of product consumption. The present study reports for the first time the re-activation of PPO and LOX during storage of avocado paste under commercial and economically feasible processing conditions (600 MPa and 3 min). The reactivation of oxidative enzymes observed in the present study is relevant for future studies on the HHP stability of food systems in general, and it is considered an important finding for the food industry and researchers seeking to deliver products with superior nutritional and flavor characteristics.