Abstract: To improve extraction yield of pumpkin pectin, microwave heating was adopted in this study. Using hot acid extraction, pumpkin pectin yield decreased from 5.7% to 1.0% as pH increased from pH 1.0 to 2.0. At pH 2.5, no pectin was recovered from pumpkin flesh powder. After a pretreatment at pH 1.0 and 25 °C for 1 h, pumpkin powder was microwave-extracted at 120 °C for 3 min resulting in 10.5% of pectin yield. However, premicrowave treatment at 60 °C for 20 min did not improve extraction yield. When microwave heating at 80 °C for 10 min was applied after premicrowave treatment, final pectin yield increased to 11.3%. When pH was adjusted to 2.0, the yield dropped to 7.7% under the same extraction conditions. Molecular shape and properties as well as chemical composition of pumpkin pectin were significantly affected depending on extraction methods. Galacturonic acid content (51% to 58%) of pumpkin pectin was lower than that detected in commercial acid-extracted citrus pectin, while higher content of neutral sugars and acetyl esters existed in pumpkin pectin structure. Molecular weight (Mw) and intrinsic viscosity (ηw) determined for microwave-extracted pumpkin pectins were substantially lower than acid-extracted pectin, whereas polydispersity was greater. However, microwave-extracted pectin at pH 2.0 had more than 5 times greater Mw than did the pectin extracted at pH 1.0. The ηw of microwave-extracted pectin produced at pH 2.0 was almost twice that of other microwave-extracted pectins, which were comparable to that of acid-extracted pectin. These results indicate that extraction yield of pumpkin pectin would be improved by microwave extraction and different pectin structure and properties can be obtained compared to acid extraction.
Practical Application: Pumpkin is a promising alternative source for pectin material. Pumpkin pectin has a unique chemical structure and physical properties, presumably providing different functional properties compared to conventional commercial pectin sources. Depending on the conditions to produce pumpkin pectin, diverse molecular structures can be obtained and utilized in various food applications.