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Packag. Technol. Sci. 2004; 17: 213–217


Heat Penetration Characteristics and Shelf-life

Studies of Mushrooms in Brine Processed in
Retort Pouches
By V. Chandrasekar,1* T. K. Srinivasa Gopal2 and R. D. Rai1
National Research Centre for Mushrooms, Chambaghat, Solan 173 213, HP, India
Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Matsyapuri Post, Cochin 682 029, India

White button mushrooms were washed, blanched and cut longitudinally into two
halves. 100 g mushroom halves was placed into each retort pouch and 90 ml hot
brine (2% salt, 0.1% citric acid) was added. Retort pouches (105 mm thick) had an
outer polyester layer (12.5 mm), a middle aluminium layer (12.5 mm) and an inner
cast polypropylene layer (80 mm); pouch size was 20 ¥ 16 cm, seal size 10 mm and lip
size 4 mm. Pouches were fixed with thermocouples for recording the core
temperature of the mushroom pieces, using a data recorder and a computer. After
sealing and over-pressure retorting at F0 = 9.6, the pouches were stored at the
ambient conditions. The heat penetration parameters were calculated. The heating
curve obtained was logarithmic in nature. Sensory evaluation of mushroom curry
prepared from the stored mushrooms showed that the product had high
acceptability (7.9 on a scale of 10) which reduced very slightly (to 7.5) during
storage for 12 months. No deformity, leakage or spoilage was noticed and the
product remained sterile and acceptable even after 12 months of storage at the
ambient conditions (20–30°C). Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Received 24 December 2003; Revised 1 April 2004; Accepted 16 April 2004
KEY WORDS: mushrooms in brine; retort pouch; packaging; storage; heat penetration
characteristics; post-harvest technology

INTRODUCTION studies on the processing of mushrooms, e.g.

drying, canning, pickling and steeping preserva-
Mushrooms have a very short shelf-life and can be tion, have been reported.2
stored only for a few days, even under the best The flexible retort pouch is an ideal alternative
storage conditions. They are processed in various to metal containers for the packing and storage of
forms for long-term storage. Drying is the widely heat-processed foods. Flexible retort pouches,
used and adopted preservation method for long- besides being cheaper, have many other advan-
term storage of mushrooms. However, button tages, such as easy bulk packing, less transporta-
mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) are difficult to dry tion cost, rapid heat penetration and being easily
due to its shape and does not give an acceptable destroyed by incineration without causing envi-
product after drying. Hence, they are canned in ronmental pollution.4 The retort pouch is slowly
tins with brine and traded across the world.1 Many replacing cans in the food industry. At present, the

* Correspondence to: V. Chandrasekar, Department of Agricultural Processing, Tamilnadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore
641003, Tamilnadu, India.

Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Packaging Technology V. CHANDRASEKAR ET AL.

and Science
retort pouch has completely replaced the metal can core temperatures.9 The pouches were arranged
for the US military’s Meals-Ready-to-Eat (MRE) in perforated aluminium trays and loaded into
rations and is making slow and steady progress in an over-pressure autoclave. The thermocouple
the commercial market. In Japan and Europe also outputs were measured using an Ellab CTF 84 data
the retort pouch has established itself in marketing recorder and computer.
food products.5 The retort temperature was maintained at 121°C
Heat penetration and storage studies using by passing steam and over-pressure was main-
retort pouches have been done for fisheries prod- tained at 28 psi throughout the heating and cooling
ucts6–9 and for storage of mushroom curry.10 periods. The filled pouches were processed to a F0
In view of the lower heat processing needs and (time in min at 121°C) value of 9.6. As soon as the
the consequent less heat-induced damage to the required F0 value was reached, the steam supply
food in retort pouches, a study has been conducted was cut off and the pouches were cooled to 40°C
on the storage of button mushrooms in brine in (Tc) by circulating cooling water. After the process,
retort pouches and on the heat penetration char- the lag factor for heating (Jh), slope of the heating
acteristics of mushrooms in brine. curve(fh), time (min) for sterilization at retort tem-
perature (U) and lag factor for cooling (Jc) were cal-
culated by plotting the temperature deficit (RT -
Tc) against time on semi-log paper. The process
time (B) was calculated by a mathematical
MATERIALS AND METHODS method.13 Physical properties and the suitability of
the pouches for food contact applications was
Fresh white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) ascertained by determining the overall migration
supplied by the mushroom farm of M/s Hindus- residue,14 internal burst strength for seal integrity,15
tan Lever Ltd, Ooty, Nilgiris, were transported by heat-seal strength,16 tensile strength and elonga-
rail overnight in air-conditioned wagons to Cochin tion at break.17
and were stored at 0–4°C in a cooling chamber and When the core temperature reached around
processed within 24 h of their harvest. The retort 40°C, the pouches were removed from the retort
pouch used was 105 mm thick, with a polypropy- and wiped dry. The mushrooms were then stored
lene inner layer (80 mm), an aluminium middle at room temperature (20–30°C). The sterility of the
layer (12.5 mm) and a polyester outer layer (12.5 mushrooms in the pouches was determined
mm); enter dimension 20 ¥ 16 cm.10 Empty weight according to IS 216818 and the pH was determined
was 10 g; the seal and lip size were 10 mm and using a digital pH meter. The post-packaging per-
4 mm, respectively. The over-pressure autoclave formance of mushrooms in retort pouches was
of John Fraser and Son Ltd, UK, available at the evaluated every 3 months during the storage
CIFT, Cochin, was used for the study. period of 12 months. The first evaluation was done
The fresh mushrooms were washed in running after allowing a stabilization period of 10 days. The
water to remove dirt and compost residues. They performance of the pouch was evaluated for
were halved along the stem axis and blanched in defects such as pinholes, wrinkles/creases on the
brine (2% salt, 0.1% citric acid; the latter is added seal area, stain/rust spots, leakage of fluids,
to prevent darkening of the mushrooms during delamination, bulging due to gas formation, and
blanching) for 5 min at about 90–94°C.11 The mush- shape and colour of the mushrooms.
rooms were immediately cooled in water. 100 g A sensory evaluation of mushrooms stored in
mushrooms were filled manually in the retort retort pouches was done after preparing a mush-
pouch and 90 ml hot brine (2% salt, 0.1% citric acid) room curry. The mushrooms were removed from
was added, giving more than 50% of mushroom the pouches, washed several times in water to
weight in each pouch. remove the excess salt and the curry prepared by
After filling, the entrapped air was removed by adding spices and salt, as followed for curry
a steam flushing method12 and sealed using an preparation using fresh mushrooms. The mush-
impulse heat-sealing machine.6 Some pouches room curry was evaluated on 10-point hedonic
were fixed with glands and thermocouple tips scale.9 Curry preparation and sensory evaluation
inserted into the mushroom pieces for recording were done after every 3 months of storage.

Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 214 Packag. Technol. Sci. 2004; 17, 213–217
and Science
RESULTS AND CONCLUSION decline in retort temperature as soon as the steam
was cut off and cold water circulated. This is essen-
The F0 value recommended for processing of tial to cool the product quickly, avoiding over-
mushrooms in brine is 8–1011,19 and for mushrooms cooking and preventing the growth of thermopiles.
in curry is 10–13.2.10 The processing was carried The heat penetration characteristics with reference
out at retort temperature of 121°C until it attained to cook value are given in Figure 2. The cook value
a F0 value of 9.6; at this value, the sterility test gives the optimal degree of tenderness in a fin-
showed that the samples were sterile with accept- ished product. The mushroom had an acceptable
able colour without breakage or softening of the colour without softening with a cook value of
mushrooms. The mushrooms had a drained 55 min. The pH of the brine was 5.75 and this
weight of 98–99 g against the 100 g initial weight. remained unchanged during the 12 months
Hence, the loss of solids in brine is 1–2%, even after storage period.
12 months storage. The heat-seal strength of the laminate was
The time required for the retort to attain 121°C 60.75 N/25 mm width in the cross-direction and
(“come-up time”) was 3 min; this time should be as 70.25 N/25 mm width in the machine direction.
short as possible.20 Actual process time was 17 min, The bursting strength of the laminate is 21 psi.
including 58% of come-up time, and gave a F0 Overall migration residue of the pouches used was
value of 9.6; the lag factor for heating (Jh) and the 10 mg/dm2, indicating its suitability for food con-
slope of the heating curve (fh) were 0.46 and 20, tact applications. The tensile strength of the pouch
respectively. The lag factor for cooling (Jc) was 1.3. was 451 kg/cm2 and 425 kg/cm2 along the machine
The process time, calculated by the mathematical direction and cross-direction, respectively. The
method,13 was 15 min and the fh: U ratio was 2.0. elongation at break was 20%. The bond strengths
Core temperature, retort temperature and F0 of of the inner polypropylene and outer polyester
the process are given in Figure 1. There was certain layers were 184 g/10 mm width and 110 g/10 mm

140 12



F value (min.)



Core Temperature
20 Retort Temperature 2

0 0
0.0 5.0 10.0 15.0 20.0 25.0

Time (min.)

Figure 1. Heat penetration and F0 of cut mushrooms in brine in a

retortable pouch.

Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 215 Packag. Technol. Sci. 2004; 17, 213–217
Packaging Technology V. CHANDRASEKAR ET AL.

and Science
140 60



Cg value (min.)



Core Temperature
20 10
Retort Temperature
Cook value
0 0
0.0 5.0 10.0 15.0 20.0 25.0
Time (min)

Figure 2. Heat penetration and cook value of cut mushroom in brine in

a retortable pouch.

3 months (Table 1) and showed that overall accept-

Table 1. Sensory evaluation of mushroom ability was very good, with 7.9 initially and 7.5
curry prepared from mushrooms retort- after 1 year of storage in ambient conditions.
processed and stored in brine Among other characteristics, the colour had a
minimum score of 7.0 initially and 6.6 after 12
Storage period (months)
months of storage. No leakage, bad odour or any
Characteristics 0 3 6 9 12 other spoilage was noticed in the pouches during
a 1 year storage period.
Flavour 8.0 7.9 7.8 7.6 7.5
Texture 8.6 8.5 8.4 8.3 8.2
Taste 8.1 8.0 7.8 7.7 7.5
Colour 7.0 6.8 6.7 6.6 6.6
Overall acceptability 7.9 7.8 7.7 7.6 7.5 REFERENCES
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Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 217 Packag. Technol. Sci. 2004; 17, 213–217