Dewatering of Yoghurt Using Permeable Membrane and Acrylic Superabsorbent Hydrogel
Conventional processes of food dewatering, such as thermal, have undesirable and destruction effects on vitamins, aromatic compounds and pigments. In addition, they are accompanied with some technological complications and energy consumption. Thus, food concentration processes are directed to non-thermal techniques or methods with reduced heat effects. Superabsorbents are highly hydrophilic polymer networks which can absorb water and aqueous solutions some hundred times of their weights and retain them. These materials are subgroups of hydrogel family that are transformed into gels after absorbing water. In the present research, the possibilities of yoghurt dewatering using superabsorbents have been investigated for the first time in Iran and some remarkable results are obtained for this vital product. In the experiments carried out to investigate the effect of these absorbents on normal method of yoghurt concentration (use of permeable membrane), type of bed (wide and vertical) and time are also studied. The percentage of total soluble solids and dry solids of dewatered samples were measured in different time intervals up to 180 min. The results showed that superabsorbent on a wide bed would reduce the concentration time to one third. In other words, in a certain time interval, more than 70% increase in yoghurt dry solids was observed compared to normal method. These results show that acrylic superabsorbent hydrogel can be applied as highly hydrophilic material in non-thermal food dewatering methods.