Turmeric Curbs Off-Flavors in Packaged
Pickles By Rosalie Marion Bliss
June 23, 2006
An Agricultural Research Service
scientist has found that turmeric, a spice used from antiquity as a coloring
agent, could also be used as a natural antioxidant to keep dill pickles fresh
after packaging in plastic jars or pouches.
The shelf life of food products stored in plastic containers has been
known to be shorter than that of products stored in glass containers, partly
because the gas-permeable plastic allows oxygen to seep through over time.
McFeeters, with the
Food Science Research Unit in Raleigh, N.C., worked with Katherine Cleary,
a graduate student at North Carolina State
University-Raleigh. They found that turmeric prevented formation of
aldehydescompounds that cause oxidative off-flavors in pickled
cucumberswhen the pickles were packaged under conditions that simulated
plastic containment over time.
The study was published recently in the Journal of Agricultural
and Food Chemistry.
Consumers are accustomed to purchasing pickles packed in glass jars.
However, plastic containers are lighter in weight, dont break, and are
easier to open. As a result, there is interest among processors in putting more
pickled vegetable products into plastic packages.
The researchers found that some aldehydes were present in pickles that
were packed in the laboratory under airtight conditions, as well as in
fresh-pack commercial pickle samples provided. However, excessive production of
aldehydes occurred when they injected oxygen into the same packaged
Using other similar samples, the researchers then added an amount of
turmeric typically used commercially as a coloring agent and an amount of
oxygen comparable to that which would enter a sealed plastic container over a
one-year storage period.
The amounts of aldehydes produced in the pickles with added turmeric
were maintained at concentrations similar to those amounts present in
high-quality commercial pickle products. The findings indicate that turmeric is
an effective antioxidant for fresh-pack dill pickles, according to the
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.