A new salt replacement technique could help to reduce the levels of sodium in already desalted cod by up to 50%, with no effect on the sensory properties of the fish, report researchers.
Writing in the Journal of Food Engineering, researchers from the Universitat Politècnica de València's CUINA group reported the reduction of salt in already desalted cod by replacing sodium chloride with potassium chloride after the desalting process. The researchers noted that the final product, which contained around 50% of the levels of regular desalted cod, still had good sensory properties.
They added that lower levels of sodium mean the product could be particularly suitable for consumers with heart or circulation problems, including hypertension. The team said that the new desalting technique responds to growing demands and pressure on the food industry to develop low-salt products.
"With this technique, we open the door to offering a new product both to those consumers who, for medical reasons, must have little salt in their diet, and to the general public, who are advised to reduce their sodium intake. Furthermore, by replacing sodium chloride with potassium chloride we get an even healthier product," said José Manuel Barat of CUINA, who led the research.
Barat and his colleagues noted the key to reducing the amount of salt in cod is to partially replace sodium with potassium after the desalting process.
"Even though it was desalted cod, it still had a certain amount of salt, as it is necessary in order to store refrigerated cod. Now we have gone a step further, and have reduced even that sodium content,” explained Barat.
“We have thus laid the ground for the development of a new product, with less sodium and more potassium, with all its properties unaltered, particularly suitable for diets with a low sodium content," he added.
The researchers said that once the cod had been desalted, they used a solution containing potassium chloride to initiate a partial exchange of sodium for potassium.
“It is like a second desalting,” said Barat. “Thus, we get a piece of cod containing 50% less sodium than standard desalted cod.”
The researchers said the technique allows the fish to retain its flavour and texture properties, adding that sensory tests in the lab have confirmed the sensory attributes of the fish.
The cod also contains enough salt to allow it to be stored under refrigeration, reported the authors who added that so far, the new technique has been applied -and validated- in laboratory tests.
Source: Journal of Food Engineering
Volume 107, Issues 3-4 , Pages 304-310, doi: 10.1016/j.jfoodeng.2011.07.012
“Development of a low-sodium ready-to-eat desalted cod”
Authors: M. Aliño, A. Fuentes, I. Fernández-Segovia, J.M. Barat.