Freezer-Friendly Fish Gelatins Fight
Sogginess By Marcia Wood April
Favorite foods stored in your freezer taste best if they have just the
right amount of moistureneither too wet nor too dry. In the future,
invisible edible coatings made from gelatin might provide a new way to make
sure water vapor can't wreak havoc with frozen food tastes and textures.
These thin, clear coatings might be made from gelatin extracted from
the silvery skins of seagoing fish such as Alaskan pollock. That's according to
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
scientists in Alaska and California who are experimenting with thin sheets of
Skins left over after pollock and other fish are processed into
fillets are typically ground up and dumped into the sea or processed into
low-value fishmeal. Gelatin coatings may provide a profitable and
environmentally friendly alternative to this approach.
The coatings, which look something like everyday clear plastic wrap,
have no seafood taste or odor, despite their marine origin.
McHugh at the agency's
Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif., and
Bechtel at the
Agricultural Research Center in Fairbanks, Alaska, and their ARS and
university coinvestigators are collaborating in the research.
Fish gelatins aren't new. But the ARS studies apparently are the first
to establish the effectiveness of Alaskan pollock gelatin as a barrier.
In laboratory tests, the fish gelatin proved a more effective barrier
to both unwanted moisture and oxygen than films made from the traditional
sourcescow and pig hides. Also, the fish gelatin would be acceptable in
kosher and Halal cuisine, while the cow and pig gelatins are not, according to
Collaborator Roberto de Jesús Avena-Bustillos, formerly with
ARS and now at the University of
California-Davis, directed the barrier studies.
Besides these versatile coatings and films, fish gelatin offers an
alternative to the traditional gelatins used as an ingredient in some frozen
foods, for example.
about the research in the April 2007 issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.