Citrus peeling technology for Florida fresh citrus

Mohamed Ismail, Mark Thomas

Abstract


Changes in the life style in the U.S. and European societies have resulted in increased demand for convenient, ready-to-eat and easy to prepare foods. This, along with decreased consumption of grapefruit prompted the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) to initiate a research program aimed at enhancing fresh citrus fruit convenience. Development of an efficient peeling system for Florida oranges and grapefruit became top priority of the Fresh Fruit Scientific Research Program. In 1998, a tabletop prototype peeler was built for the FDOC by Heinzen Manufacturing, Inc. (HMI) of Gilroy, California. In 1999 a two-head peeling system capable of peeling 50 fruit per minute was built. Use of food grade pectinase enzyme preparation facilitated the peeling process and was instrumental to the success of the new peeling machine. The new peeling unit has a 1 ft foot print and utilizes a number of blades to score the peel to a depth of approximately 2 mm. The rind is removed using six spring-loaded members equipped with fixed barbs that impale and strip the peel off the fruit as it passes through the peeling unit. Several improvements have been incorporated into the peeling unit since its introduction in 1999 resulting in greater peeling efficiency and enhanced machine durability. HMI is currently licensed to manufacture the peeling system and use of the technology is licensed to two companies. Marketing of fresh-cut citrus products by these companies is expected to debut during the 2002-2003 citrus season. A U.S. patent was issued on April 16, 2002.

Keywords


fresh-cut; convenience; consumption; automation

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283