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FoodTech Report

Volume 7 Issue 1

Ask the Expert:
Pomegranate processing maximizes
nutrition and taste

As a “super food” with nutrients that can prevent heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and antioxidants that slow the aging process, pomegranates are in high demand for both their nutritional value and sweet, rich flavor, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Processors have the unique challenge of balancing high nutritional quality, good taste and stable turbidity, or cloudiness. Juice with high nutritional value and good color is typically bitter and turbid because of the particulates in the juice, but certain processing techniques can reduce the bitterness to create a sweet, enjoyable taste for juice, syrups, spirits and sauces.

Rossana Borgese, food scientist for JBT FoodTech, discusses the challenges pomegranate processors face and the best way to achieve a continuous pomegranate processing operation without compromising product quality.

Pomegrantes

Pomegranates have a thick, husk-like exterior and an interior membrane housing dozens of arils, which are seeds surrounded by juice-filled sacs. Pomegranate processors produce a juice concentrate to sell to remanufacturers, or extract the arils and sell them whole for the fresh market.


Q: How are pomegranates typically processed?
A: Pomegranate processing is an intricate and delicate process, somewhat similar to a conventional citrus juicing process. The pomegranate is typically shaken to extract the arils, which are then pressed to extract the juice. Nitrogen gas is used when pressing the arils to prevent juice oxidation, or air contamination. The juice is then de-aerated to separate the oxygen and prevent browning; pasteurized to stabilize microbial activity; passed through a centrifuge to separate pulp and then stabilized with enzymatic and clarification treatments. For clear juice, an ultrafiltration process is added. To minimize the loss of taste and nutritional qualities, pomegranate juice must be concentrated and aseptically packed or stored in a deep frozen condition.

TASTE evaporator

Utilizing the TASTE Evaporator technology is an ideal processing technique for pomegranate juice because of the delicate balance required for quality nutritional content and taste.

Q: What are some common challenges and misconceptions of pomegranate processing?
A: Some juice producers may consider adapting their own technology from other fruit processing to produce pomegranate juice. Most of the time, the results are juices that are poor in color, unstable and bitter. Processors can determine the best way to either modify existing equipment to accommodate pomegranates with laboratory tests and analysis at the Food Technology Centers, located in the U.S.A., South America and Europe.

Another challenge in pomegranate processing is standardization. Each pomegranate variety has unique qualities. In order to produce a consistent juice with constant properties, processors must accommodate for the variation.

JBT FoodTech offers solutions to build pomegranate processing lines, provide input in optimization or assist processors in adapting an existing citrus processing line for pomegranate processing.

Q: How can pomegranate processors balance high nutritional quality
with taste?

A: Processors can maximize the quality of pomegranate juice produced by focusing on extraction and concentration technology that finds the right balance between bitterness and healthy properties. This balance minimizes flavor and nutrition degradation. Thermally Accelerated Short Time Evaporator (TASTE) technology preserves the pomegranate juice’s natural nutritional quality when concentrating it by preventing thermal damage. JBT FoodTech aseptic filling systems provide reliable bulk packaging for high and low-acid food products.

To learn more about pomegranate and citrus processing solutions, visit the JBT FoodTech Web site.


Do you have a question about food processing technology that you would like a JBT FoodTech expert to address in the next issue of FoodTech Report? Submit your question.


©2009 JBT Corporation. All rights reserved.

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