In recent years, food colours derived from natural sources (plant/marine) are gainingimportance over their synthetic counterparts as food additives since they are non-toxicand non-carcinogenic. When extracted from their sources, both fruit juices and naturalcolours have low solid content, colour strength and high water load. Water, being themajor constituent of liquid foods and natural colours, contributes to the growth of themicroorganisms. Removal of water helps to reduce the microbial load, thereby favouringan increase in the shelf-life of the liquid foods and natural colours. Hence, it is desirableto concentrate these liquid foods and natural colours to improve shelf-life, stability andto reduce storage/transportation costs (Philip, 1984; Petrotos and Lazarides, 2001). Thischapter, besides briefly considering the existing concentration methods such as evapora-tive concentration, freeze concentration and membrane concentration discusses thenewer athermal membrane processes like osmotic membrane distillation (OMD) anddirect osmosis (DO) for the concentration of liquid foods and natural colours. Apart frommerits and demerits, suggestions for future work and the possibilities of integrating thenewer membrane processes (OMD/DO) with the existing processes are also addressed.
The concentration of liquid foods constitutes the major aspect of the food processingindustry. The following processes are currently in use for the concentration of liquidfoods and natural colours.
Evaporation is one of the oldest methods employed for concentrating liquid foods andnatural colours. Evaporation is defined as the removal of water by vaporization fromthe solution to produce a concentrated solution. Selection of the proper evaporator isnecessary and depends upon many factors such as the properties of the feed material,quality of the product, operating conditions and operating economy. Some evapor-ators that are commonly used for the concentration of liquid foods and natural coloursare discussed in following sections (McCabe et al., 2001).
2.1.1Open pan evaporators
These are the simplest commercial available evaporators and their low cost makes thempopular. Open pan evaporators consist of a container open to the atmosphere in whichfluid is heated by a flame or by steam through a coil or external jacket. The pans maybe closed to permit vacuum operation. Stirring increases the rate of heat transfer andreduces risk of product ‘burn on’. These are used in tomato pulp concentration, soupand sauce preparations and in jam and confectionary boiling. Small-jacketed pans arevery useful, but with large capacities the ratio of heat transfer surface to liquid volumefalls and the heating becomes less effective. Internal heating coils fitted in large unitscan interfere with the liquid circulation, so affecting the heat transfer rate. In generalwhen larger capacities are required other types of evaporators are preferred.
Athermal Membrane Processes for the Concentration of Liquid Foods and Natural Colours