Non-heat ahead-treatment in advance of the main dehydration is essential to preserve the quality and ensure food safety. Pulsed electric field (PEF) utilizes a high-voltage electric field in a very short duration to inhibit microbes and enzymes while maintaining the most sensory and nutritional characteristics. For thermal sensitive components, the dehydration process should be performed at low temperatures. Freeze dehydration, vacuum dehydration required high cost for equipment, energy consumption, low quantity in long dehydration time. Microwave-air dehydration is considered as a promising alternative technical approach. Sesban (Sesbania sesban) flower contains numerous phytochemical components promoting health-benefit. However, it’s highly perishable after harvesting. Consumers enjoy the dried sesban flower as a healthy drink. This study examined the possibility of PEF ahead-treatment in microbial inhibition and enzymatic inactivation; essential oil and Microwave-air dehydration on retention of total phenolic content (TPC), vitamin C, 2,2 diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl of free radical scavenging (DPPH), ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) of the dehydrated sesban flower. Research also monitored the microbial stability of the dehydrated sesban flower during 12 months of preservation. Results showed that PEF at pulse strength 1000 kV/cm, pulse duration 90 µs, pulse number 45 was remarkably inactivated polyphenol oxidase and peroxidase in raw material. Rosemary essential oil soaked for sesban flower before dehydration positively preserved the ascorbic acid, phenolic content and antioxidant capacity. These PEF and essential oil ahead-treatments strongly facilitated for the main Microwave-air dehydration. Among different air temperatures from 20°C to 40°C in microwave-air dehydration, the highest Vitamin C, TPC, DPPH and FRAP of the dried flower were recorded at air temperature from 20°C to 30°C with no significant difference. Meanwhile, airspeed 1.2 m/s showed the highest Vitamin C, TPC, DPPH and FRAP of the dried flower with no significant difference with airspeed 1.4 m/s and 1.6 m/s. There was no significant difference in Vitamin C, TPC, DPPH and FRAP of the dried flower by microwave power from 1.15 to 1.45W/g. Therefore, a combination of microwave and air dehydration at air temperature 25°C, airspeed 1.2 m/s, the microwave energy density of 1.45 W/g was recommended to better preserve vitamin C, TPC, DPPH, FRAP. Microbial stability of the dehydrated flower was also observed during 12 months of storage by 3 month-interval sampling. Coliform, yeast and mold criteria in dried product were stable within acceptable limits.
Essential oil, PEF, Microwave-air dehydration, sesban flower
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