Mild heat pasteurization, high pressure processing (HP) and pulsed electric field (PEF) processing of freshly squeezed orange juice were comparatively evaluated examining their impact on microbial load and quality parameters immediately after processing and during two months of storage. Microbial counts for treated juices were reduced beyond detectable levels immediately after processing and up to 2 months of refrigerated storage. Quality parameters such as pH, dry matter content and brix were not significantly different when comparing juices immediately after treatment and were, for all treatments, constant during storage time. Quality parameters related to pectinmethylesterase (PME) inactivation, like cloud stability and viscosity, were dependent on the specific treatments that were applied. Mild heat pasteurization was found to result in the most stable orange juice. Results for HP are nearly comparable to PEF except on cloud degradation, where a lower degradation rate was found for HP. For PEF, residual enzyme activity was clearly responsible for changes in viscosity and cloud stability during storage.
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