While attempting to develop a soft, seafood-based product as a potential food item for senior citizens, we evaluated the effects of different softening methods on the hardness and quality of thawed muscular mantle tissue of the neritic squid (Uroteuthis edulis
) versus controls. Comparisons were made among injection with proteolytic enzymes (papain, bromelain); soaking in these enzymes or in alkali solutions (NaHCO3
, NaOH); various soaking regimes combined with either orbital shaking under vacuum, ultrasonic processing, or ultrasonic cleaning; or hot-air drying and rehydration. Elderly panelists’ sensory impressions of thawed and heat-sterilized squid mantle subjected to these treatments were recorded, together with the total volatile basic nitrogen (TVBN), pH, color, protein breakdown profile (SDS-PAGE), and histological characteristics of thawed squid mantle subjected to the same treatments but not heat-sterilized. TVBN measurements showed that squid mantle remained in a close-to-fresh state under all treatments except for hot-air drying. The pH and hardness decreased and the muscles turned white when soaked in either enzymes or alkali. Orbital shaking under vacuum while soaking in 0.3% papain for 12 h produced the softest product, the next softest being obtained by injection with 0.3% papain. After orbital shaking under vacuum in 1.0% papain, protein degradation was confirmed by SDS-PAGE, and broken muscle fibers were evident in histological sections. Sensory evaluation panelists with unimpeded chewing ability rated mushy, papain-treated squid mantle poorly. Soaking in 2% NaHCO3
in an ultrasonic processor, following by washing out of the alkali, proved to be a better tenderizing method than either enzyme treatment or hot-air drying for neritic squid mantle intended for consumption by senior citizens.
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