The effect of commercial canning and freezing on the nutritional content of fresh apricots was investigated. Processed samples were analyzed post-processing and after 3 months of storage and compared directly to fresh apricots from the same source. Vitamin C, beta-carotene, total phenols, and antioxidants were quantified. Compared to fresh, canned apricots initially exhibited similar levels of antioxidants, a 17% increase in beta-carotene, and a 48% increase in phenols, while vitamin C was reduced by 37%. After 3 months of storage, antioxidant levels were 47% higher than fresh. Vitamin C did not change significantly following storage and beta-carotene decreased by 15%. The canned apricot fruit packed in light syrup did not have higher total soluble solids (TSS) levels indicating no increase in fruit sugar content. Frozen apricots exhibited large increases in antioxidants (529%), beta-carotene (35%), vitamin C (3,370%), and phenols (406%) compared to fresh. After 3 months of storage, frozen apricots decreased in vitamin C (29%) and phenols (17%), but remained 2,375% and 318% higher than fresh, respectively. Beta-carotene increased during storage, reaching levels 56% higher than fresh while antioxidant activity was unchanged. This study demonstrates that key nutrients in canned and frozen apricots are retained or amplified upon processing, with the exception of vitamin C in canned apricots. The routine addition of citric and ascorbic acid to fruit prior to freezing resulted in significantly higher antioxidants, vitamin C, and phenols. Consumers eating canned or frozen apricots can feel confident of similar or superior nutritional content as compared to fresh apricots.
Practical application: The apricot industry is limited by the short shelf life of the fruit and consumer belief that processed produce is not as nutritious as fresh. Assessing the nutritional content of canned and frozen apricots and determining that processed apricots can deliver nearly comparable nutrient levels to fresh apricots provides the evidence needed to dispel these misconceptions and potentially increase demand for processed apricots among consumers.
Keywords: antioxidant; beta-carotene; processing; total phenolic content; vitamin C.
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