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Faster, cheaper: Freeze-dried Alaska salmon cubes

Doug O'Harra

A team of Alaska scientists have conjured a new method for freeze-drying older or less desirable hunks of salmon that takes less time and expense than traditional methods, according to a story posted online by the federal Agricultural Research Service.

Cubes of salmon produced with this process retain good color, shrink less and rehydrate quickly — creating a potential outlet for fish flesh not marketable as fresh filets.

“Salmon cubes could offer delicious, healthful alternatives for unused portions of fish muscle,” according to ARS food technologist Peter Bechtel, with the Subarctic Agricultural Research Unit of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“Sometimes when the salmon gets too close to spawning season, the roe is of high quality and value, but the muscle quality has deteriorated and often has limited uses,” said the Kodiak-based Bechtel in this story. “Therefore, it’s considered a byproduct; but a freeze-dried product would be a way to use edible portions of meat and add value.”

Chuck Crapo, seafood technology specialist with the UAF Marine Advisory Program, and Duy Nguyen, visiting scientist from the University of Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa, Vietnam, tweaked the drying process at the lab in Kodiak and created a novel, two-step procedure.

“By manipulating temperature and time, Crapo, Nguyen, and UAF professor Alexandra Oliveira created a process that took only 9 hours — traditional processing takes 20 hours or more,” explained the story.

“In addition to requiring a shorter processing time, cubes retained their Pacific salmon color, shrank by only 12 percent, and rehydrated quickly — a desirable trait for use in dry soups.”

Contact Doug O'Harra at doug(at)alaskadispatch.com