Summer in Georgia yields a bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables. In fact, Georgia is one of the top producers of cantaloupe in the U.S., and Georgia-grown watermelons and cantaloupes are the stars of summer grocery stores and farmers markets.
However, the shelf life of these fruits is short. Besides the fresh market, there isn’t another outlet for watermelon and cantaloupe growers to sell their produce. Now UGA researchers are stepping in to help find novel uses for the juicy orbs.
Food waste and access to nutritious food is a growing concern throughout the U.S., and the development of new methods of processing and value-added products is critical for the future stability of the agricultural industry.
To help Georgia growers, researchers in the Department of Food Science and Technology (FST) at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) are conducting studies to test new products using these fruits.
“The long-term goal of our research is to extend the shelf life of fruit juices while preserving natural levels of beneficial molecules and sensory quality,” explained Lida Araghi, the doctoral candidate who is leading the juice study.
This study examines the use of refrigeration and high pressure processing methodology to make the juice as fresh as possible. Using high pressure instead of other conventional methods allows for the fruit to retain its nutritious profile.
“A nonthermal technology like high-pressure processing offers an alternative to conventional thermal processing to meet consumer demands for convenient, high-quality, natural nutrients and minimally processed products,” stated Araghi.
By finding a new way to process watermelons and cantaloupes, this research increases the number of markets for growers to sell their produce while providing a new way for consumers to obtain nutritious food. This multiyear research study is one of the many ways CAES is continues to help Georgians decrease food waste and produce new healthy consumer goods to the market.
For more information on research happening at FST, visit foodscience.caes.uga.edu/research.