salted eggsIf you think all salted eggs are red, think again.

With the recent technology developed by the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Unit I (DA-RFU I), Ilocos Integrated Agricultural Research Center (ILIARC) led by its manager and principal researcher, Dr. Jovita M. Datuin, you’ll never look at salted eggs the same way again.

Not only did they improve the taste and texture, they also gave our good ‘ol itlog na pula a total make-over. Gone are the troublesome dyes that stick on your hands whenever you crack an egg. Customers need not to worry about the suspected health risk from the colorings used in dyeing salted eggs.

Ducks as source of salted eggs
Duck, although ranks second only to chicken for egg and meat production, is also an important sub sector of the Philippine poultry industry. It provides employment and income-generating opportunities for Filipinos, particularly those in the rural and marginal areas. Majority of ducks in the Philippines are kept by smallholder farmers in the villages.

Among the avian species, duck is considered the most adaptable because it can survive on almost all kinds of environmental conditions.

Raising ducks is simple, less expensive, and requires non-elaborate housing facilities. Ducks need very minimal space for rearing compared to chickens. They are relatively resilient, resistant to common diseases, and subsist on a variety of feeds. They can be fed on a variety of foods, such as rice, cassava, copra, corn, and fruits.

And since ducks live longer than chickens, farmers can already make profit even in the second year of laying and need longer interval for the replacement of stock.

For the Philippine Mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchus L.), which is raised primarily for its egg production, offers a wide variety business opportunities. Studies on the laying performance of Mallard duck from several locations in the Philippines revealed wide variability in egg production. According to the study of Dr. Angel L. Lambio of the Institute of Animal Science, University of the Philippines, Los Banos (IAS-ULPB), on the average, egg production of Philippine Mallard ducks, also known as “Pateros duck”, varied from 48 percent to 67.5 percent.

Salted eggs as profitable business
Salted duck egg, locally referred to as known as itlog na maalat is a common feature on every Filipino dining table especially during breakfast. It can be eaten alone or with steamed rice or mixed in salad style with diced tomatoes and onions. It is also used as ingredients to pastries and toppings on breads and other bakery products, especially bibingka.

In terms of its nutrient content, salted egg is packed with nutrients. It is highest in calcium (120 mg), carbohydrates (4.4 mg), ash (202 mg), and thiamin (0.47 mg) compared to fresh egg, balut, penoy, or century egg.

Whether it is home-based or commercially produced, salted eggs command high demand in the market providing profitable income for Filipinos.

With the ever-growing population of Filipinos around the world, salted eggs have also become well-demanded outside the country. According to the study of Dr. Datuin, the Philippines is exporting processed duck to Kuwait, Arabia, Peninsula, Bahrain, and even the Trust Territory in the Pacific Islands.

Improved technology on salted eggs
The technology came from the results of a study titled “Shelf-life Evaluation of Salted Eggs Cured by Different Processing Methods”. The technology that was derived from the study, deviated from the usual “itlog na maalat” known to most Filipinos since the technology uses four different processing methods.

Specifically, the study wanted to determine the shelf -life of salted eggs processed in curing media to appropriately indicate expiration date of the products, and to recommend the most appropriate processing method for local and export markets.

Four curing media were used to evaluate the quality of the salted eggs given specific criteria which included egg white color, egg white texture, egg white saltiness, yolk color, yolk texture and consistency, flavor, off-flavor, and general acceptability.

The curing used were salt solution, ordinary clay method, heated clay, and autoclaved clay. Fresh duck eggs were submerged in the curing media for 20 days and were boiled for four hours.

The heated clay method is a treatment similar to the ordinary clay method usually used in processing salted eggs, except that clay is pulverized and heated for one hour before mixing with salt.

Results of the sensory evaluation showed that salted eggs that were subjected in the four curing methods significantly differed in quality and taste compared to the usual soil-salt mixture. The egg white is off white, smooth but not soft and the saltiness is moderately normal. The yolk is yellow orange in color, gritty and oily in texture and consistency, and rich and full in flavor.

While the usual salted eggs expire after 3-4 weeks, those that were subjected to heated and autoclaved clay methods can last until six weeks. Flavor and general acceptability decline if the storage period reaches the eighth week.

For the most appropriate methods for local and export markets, Dr. Datuin recommended that the autoclaved clay process promises a good general acceptability rating and longer storage period of eight weeks.

For the local market however, housewives are advised to process duck eggs into salted eggs using the clay method either heated or autoclaved. The autoclaving process may entail an extra cost on the part of the processors, thus heating the clay for one hour is considered practical and easier to prolong the storage period and improve the quality of salted eggs. For export market, autoclaved clay salted eggs gives longer storage period and better quality.

Aside from the longer shelf life, improved taste and texture of the egg white and yolk, Dr. Datuin and her group thought of a value-adding touch for their product.

Customers are alarmed by recent reports on the increase detection of prohibited colorings such as the cancer-causing Sudan Red in salted eggs. Although the cases were isolated to have been found in China-made salted eggs, some customers are still wary of food safety.

“We do not use dye to color the eggshell, thus protecting it from possible bacteria. Instead we use corn stovers to package and adorn them,” Dr. Datuin enthusiastically explained during a seminar wherein she gave samples of salted eggs to audience.

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For more information, please contact Dr. Jovita M. Datuin, manager of the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Unit I, Ilocos Integrated Agricultural Research Center, DMMSU Compound, Bacnotan, La Union or contact her at telephone no. (072) 888-5315 or mobile no. (0918) 85123918 or via e-mail at: [email protected]

Source and Photo by Rita T. dela Cruz- bar.gov.ph- October-December 2008 Volume 10 Issue No. 4

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