AbstractMinimally processed tropical pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) has considerable potential to create new value-added market opportunities for Puerto Rico. The aim of this work was to evaluate the quality and microbiological changes of minimally processed tropical pumpkin packed in low-density polyethylene (LDPE) bags and stored for 20 days. Pumpkin pieces approximately 2 cm3 in size were obtained from two cultivars (Taina Dorada' and 'Soler'). Pieces were immersed in an antimicrobial solution containing citric acid (0.2%) and sodium benzoate (0.1%) for 3 min, centrifuged in a salad spinner, packed in LDPE bags with either vacuum or non-vacuum packaging, and stored at 4° C ± 2 for a period of 20 days. There were minimum effects of storage time on the chemical and physical characteristics of the pumpkin pieces. The percentage of O2 decreased continuously in non-vacuum packaging while the percentage of CO2 increased within the first 72 hours of storage. A sensorial panel judged pumpkin pieces stored for a period of 20 days to be of acceptable quality. A minimally processed product based on pumpkin treated with an antimicrobial solution, packed in LDPE bags (either vacuum or non-vacuum packaging) and stored for 20 days at 4° C ± 2 presented safe microbiological levels and acceptable quality for the consumer.
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