Smoke flavourings and water vapour permeable bags for new fish smoking techniques
Researchers of the Universitat Politècnica de València have developed a new technique based on the use of water vapour permeable bags for fish salting and smoking. This technique, which combines a "controlled salting" with the use of smoke flavourings and packaging, allows better control of the amount of salt in the final product. Moreover, it results in better food safety as it minimises the risk of microbial contamination caused by handling the product.
So far, this technique has been applied on a laboratory scale to obtain new salmon and cod smoking techniques with physico-chemical and sensory traits similar to the smoked products currently on the market. The results have been released in Journal of Food Engineering.
"In the production process of smoked products, salt is used as a preservative, so the greater the amount of salt used, the longer the product is preserved. However, this can affect the organoleptic properties of the product and, ultimately, the consumer's health", explains Ana Fuentes, researcher at the Grupo CUINA of the Universitat Politècnica de València. This technique allows the necessary dose to be precisely calculated depending on the product weight and the type of fish: the bag facilitates the salt absorption and the evaporation of the exudated fluid. This permits better control of the characteristics of the final product, a reduction in the amount of salt used in the preparation process and, therefore, a reduction in brine residue.
In addition, the application of this technique will bring significant competitive advantages to companies in the food industry, as it reduces both the time and costs of the product processing. "With this methodology, the whole process happens in one single stage and in one chamber within the water vapour permeable bags, stored in refrigeration. In this way we simultaneously add salt and give flavour to the fish. We use smoke flavourings to replace traditional smoking", adds Isabel Fernández, researcher at the Food Research and Innovation Group (CUINA) of the UPV.
In order to prove the advantages of this new technique, different sensory analyses were performed to compare the new smoked fish with other commercial products. "The sensory tests verified that the consumers did not perceive any differences between them", says Arantxa Rizo, researcher at the CUINA-UPV.
Besides salmon and cod, the researchers of the UPV are studying the application of this technique to smoke other fish species, as well as other dry-salted products such as salted tuna.