This study was intended to extend, by optimizing modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), the shelf-life of the Italian vegetable sauce used for spaghetti and known as ‘pesto’. A mathematical model was developed in order to predict gas composition inside the polymeric package (CO2 concentration). Predictions of equilibration time and equilibrium gas composition showed moderately good agreement with experimental data. A useful extension of pesto shelf-life, up to 120 days, was achieved by adopting a target atmosphere containing, at steady-state, 10% CO2 and 90% N2 at 5 8C. Microbial growth was inhibited by the CO2 levels, but was not accompanied by significant changes in odour and colour.
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