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Keeping Quality in Dried Food

Perishable food items such as fish can be dried to give a longer life-span without compromising on quality, according to Zubair Waliuzzaman, a third-year Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science student at the Auckland Institute of Technology.

His research, which was conducted and supervised at HortResearch in collaboration with Crop & Food, looked at drying fish using a heat pump dehumidifier (HPD) at lower temperatures.

"There is a market for this. Currently, we depend on Asia for dried fish, but our studies show there is the possibility to make more use of the local product," he says.

The research found that by drying the fish at a low temperature, a high-quality product was ensured. The HPD is connected to a computer and, therefore, can give better and more accurate control of the drying process.

"We have to find the correct temperature to dry food, and further studies need to be done. But basically what we found is that the lower temperature you dry food, the better the quality," he says.

The HPD technology was developed 10-12 years ago and since then 32 industries in Australia have used it for drying nuts and herbs. However, until this research began, the potential for drying other foods had not been realised, Waliuzzaman says. HortResearch is investigating its use with fruits and vegetables.