Product development of chilled and alcohol preserved sea urchin gonads for human consumption

This study investigates the product development requirements for Fiji’s edible sea urchin (cawaki) gonads to be commercially processed for supermarket or export sale. Despite valuable markets for the product existing overseas, currently the urchins and urchin gonads are only harvested and consumed locally.  Four different gonad preservation methods were trialled: salt; brine; alcohol; and a dextrin/salt/sodium alginate solution. A variety of storage temperatures were trialled, and samples were tested for microbial, chemical and organoleptic characteristics. Given the most desirable characteristics of sea urchin gonads (bright orange/yellow, firm, fresh odour and taste and free of leakage), results showed the best preservation method to be 5% dry salt, stored at -5.4°C or an alcohol/salt mix stored at ambient temperature. Further research is required to determine ideal harvesting time and locations.

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