How many ways can you process an apple?

Food can be processed in many ways and, as you already have learned, this can include very simple home-processing methods. Remember that food processing includes anything that changes a food’s original form.

Let’s revisit the apple example. An apple can be consumed in many different ways. The most simple and common way is eating it whole, but we often also cut it into small pieces. Slicing is a basic food processing method which means that technically a sliced apple is considered processed food. Baking a pie, cooking jam or a sauce, juicing and drying apples for a healthy snack are all food processing methods.

Infographic with an whole red apple in the middle. Radiating arrows show how it can be processed with pictures illustrating each: apple slice; apple juice; dried apple circles; apple sauce in a jar; jar of jam; apple pie.

Different ways to process an apple. ©EUFIC

Let’s look at which food processing methods some products derived from apples have undergone.

Dried apples. The processes that produce dried apple rings are: washing, slicing and drying. Drying foods helps retain vitamins and minerals. Furthermore, sun drying, oven drying, freeze-drying and jamming increase shelf life and help to avoid spoiling and reduce food waste.

Apple jam. The processes used when producing apple sauce, marmalade, compote and jam are practically the same. The first step is washing the apples. Then, depending on our preferences, we peel, pit, cut, pulp and/or slice them. After that comes the process of heating. We may boil the apples and incorporate some additives (such as sugar and starch). Heating and stirring thickens the product and we might also add some flavourings or lemon juice (citric acid). These are also considered additives.

Apple pie. When baking a pie, the first thing to take into account is that almost all the ingredients will have already been processed. The pastry requires flour, salt, butter and water. The filling consists of washed, cooked, chopped, stewed and cooled apples, and some sugar. The ingredients are then subjected to further processing steps such as mixing, and finally cooking.

Apple juice. Apples are harvested, cleaned, and crushed in a mill or macerated. The pulp is pressed and treated by enzymatic and centrifugal clarification to remove starch and pectin. These processes result in natural, fresh juice. However, if we want to preserve the taste and nutrients for a longer time, the juice will need be pasteurised. The final product is generally marketed as ‘fresh juice’. Juice labelled ‘from concentrate’ goes through an extra process where the fresh juice is dehydrated, packaged for transport and then mixed with water.

In Week 2, we will look at some of these processes in more detail.

Having seen how one product can be processed in many different ways, have your views on what ‘processing’ means changed?

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This article is from the free online course:

How is Food Made? Understanding Processed Food

EIT Food