High School High School Biology and Chemistry

How the Canning Process Affects Enzyme Activity

Debating between buying fresh and canned fruit?

Have you ever wondered why fresh fruit doesn’t taste the same as canned fruit? Some say that its because of the metal surrounding the can. But, it’s mostly because of the packaging differences between the types.

Fruit is an essential part of our diet; the nutrients and enzymes in the fruit boost our immune and digestive system to perform functions for our everyday lives.

Enzymatic activity is prevalent in fresh fruit. Canned fruit goes through high amounts of heat and pressure, denaturing the enzyme and ridding it of some nutrients. The canning process involves large amounts of heat in order to seal the can, causing the fruit to lose some its most praised supplements.

Take pineapple, for example. Pineapple has a mixture of enzymes that culminate to form bromelain: usually found in the stem of the plain or in pineapple juice. [1] Fresh pineapple does not go through any extenuating processes that damage its chemical composition; it’s mostly just transported from the farm to a grocery store. Canned pineapple, however, serves a different purpose. With a longer shelf life than its counterpart, it may seem as an attractive choice at first. But, the high temperatures and pressures associated with the canning process denatures the enzymes (bromelain) in the pineapple.

Jell-O, arguably our favorite childhood snack, contains collagen that allows for it to solidify. Enzymes have properties that allow them to break down collagen. So, if you want to make Jell-O with pineapple, it must be canned because of the aforementioned processes. If not, your Jell-O will not solidify and will stay a liquid substance, as stated by the University of California, Santa Barbara [2].

Essentially, it’s a trade off: More nutrients for a lower shelf life or less nutrients for a higher shelf life. Most trendy millennials go for the latter because of its health benefits while people in lower socioeconomic classes tend to resort towards the latter because fresh fruit is usually more expensive than its counterpart.


Citation 1: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24188232

Citation 2: http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=1968

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