Organoleptic characteristics of Undaria

How the organoleptic qualities of Wakame seaweed (Undaria pinnatifida) can be optimized through preservation processes.

When compared to other types of seaweeds, the freshly picked brown seaweed Undaria pinnatifida gives off strong marine, vegetal and animal fragrances. Its texture is juicy, very moist, moderately sticky and crunchy rather than hard. Its taste is among the least salty, reinforced by a slight bitterness and a subtle note of (green) parsley.

However, does the duration of these characteristics depend on conservation processes? Data obtained at Vegenov by a panel of trained tasters and at ADRIA by measurements of texture and colour provide an answer to this question.

Example of presentation of fresh Undaria pinnatifida for sensory evaluation
Intensity of the organoleptic characteristics of fresh Undaria pinnatifida compared to other species of fresh seaweed (fresh component) and to all evaluated seaweed (fresh and processed, global extent)
None of the treatments managed to preserve the herbal scent of fresh Undaria pinnatifida. Sterilization under acidic conditions reinforced the marine smell, while other treatments stabilized it. In contrast, blanching and freezing after blanching appear to have reduced the animal scent (resembling that of leather). The PAP (Protective Atmosphere Packaging) and salting resulted in products with smells that were closest to the fresh produce.

Whatever the process, a little of the juiciness was lost. Acid sterilization, dehydration and salting enhanced the stickiness. Blanching and PAP gave Undaria pinnatifida a harder texture, while sterilization and dehydration made it softer. Freezing resulted in a texture closest to that of fresh seaweed (except for the juiciness).

The flavour of Undaria pinnatifida was best preserved after salting and acid sterilization. These 2 processes made it possible to reduce the saltiness. Dehydration and deep freezing reduced the saltiness as well as the vinegar-like aroma. Finally, seaweed that had undergone both dehydration and PAP were found to be saltier than fresh seaweed.

The fresh seaweed had a brown colour that turns green after blanching. This green shade was observed on frozen blanched seaweed, albeit a little darker. The storage of blanched seaweed under PAP resulted in a rapid loss of this green shade. Blanched Undaria pinnatifida stabilized on salt presented a slightly less dark green shade that that of blanched fresh seaweed. Sterilization in acid brine limited the loss of the green colour.

Note: the data were collected from different batches; the variability of the raw material was not taken into account. The fresh seaweed was provided by the CEVA, and was processed at the CEVA, ADRIA and IDmer.

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