This study investigated the mechanisms of anthocyanin pigment retention using Fe(3+)-anthocyanin complexation and cellulose nanofiber (CNF)/sodium alginate (SA) layer-by-layer (LBL) coatings on thermally processed blueberries in aqueous media. Anthocyanin pigments were polymerized through complexation with Fe(3+) but readily degraded by heat (93 °C for 7 min) in the aqueous media because of poor stability. CNF/SA LBL coating was successful to retain anthocyanin pigments in thermally processed blueberries. Fruits coated with CNF containing CaCl2 followed by treatment in a SA bath formed a second hydrogel layer onto the CNF layer (LBL coating system) through cross-linking between Ca(2+) and alginic acid. Methyl-cellulose-modified CNF improved the interactions between CNF, the fruit surface, and the SA layer. This study demonstrated that the CNF/SA LBL coating system was effective to retain anthocyanin pigments on thermally processed whole blueberries, whereas no combined benefit of complexation with coating was observed. Results explained the mechanisms of the new approaches for developing colorful and nutritionally enhanced anthocyanin-rich fruit products.
Keywords: CaCl2; Fe3+−anthocyanin; cellulose nanofiber; layer-by-layer coating; methyl cellulose.