Processing Sea Cucumber: Making Nutritious Snack Foods

Marine invertebrates account nearly 40% of the World Fishery Trade. More than 21 classes of marine invertebrates have been classified but only about 6,000 species of six classes still exist. These are widely distributed in all oceans of marine environments, ranging from the intertidal zone to the deepest oceanic trenches. Marine invertebrates are harvested and are usually processed for food and medicinal purposes.

One of the most valuable marine invertebrates which are processed into food are sea cucumbers. Sea cucumbers are locally known as balat, balatan or trepang, and commercially known as beche de mer. Over 650 species of sea cucumber belong to Holothurians group but only about 14 are identified for commercial value. The white teatfish is the most expensive and generally preferred species.

Sea cucumbers are classified into high, medium, and low value species. It usually prepared as delicacies and condiments for soups, noodles and other dishes, and sometimes prepared as salads, eaten fresh or fermented. Rich in protein and minerals, sea cucumbers also have curative properties for ailments such as high blood pressure, muscular disorder, whooping cough, bronchial inflammation, and minor wounds.

Traditionally, sea cucumbers are cleaned by burying under the sand overnight and washing in hot water to remove the hard covering and other impurities on their skin. These are then prepared as smoke-dried and boil-dried, and are sold commercially in such forms.

Improved and Value-Added Products

Exporters and processors of sea cucumbers claim that smoke-dried sea cucumber products had short storage life. The products are usually attacked by molds thereby, resulting to poor quality and lower prices. To improve the products’ quality and storage life, a modified procedure was developed.

Traditional Modified
  1. Sea cucumber
  2. Boil (5-10 min.)
  3. Slit/gut (2-3 cm long)
  4. Reboil (15-30 min.)
  5. Wash (ordinary water)
  6. Sundry (4-5 days)
  7. Pack
  1. Boil 3-5 min.)
  2. Smoke (24-48 hrs.)
  3. Slit/gut (2-3 cm long)
  4. Reboil (10-20 min.)
  5. Clean with 5% alum
  6. Wash (soak in hot water with 200gms papaya leaves
  7. Smoke (10-20 min.)
  8. Sundry ( 1 day)
  9. Pack

Rejected and low-priced smoke-dried sea cucumbers could be utilized and processed into value added products. On the other hand, low-value species of sea cucumbers could be processed into biscuits, chips, jelly, noodles, and pickles.

Smoked-Dried Sea Cucumber

Smoked-dried sea cucumber is prepared by boiling, slitting/gutting, reboiling, and washing in tap water. After such preparations, the sea cucumber is smoked, sun-dried, and packed prior to marketing.

Sensory evaluation showed that smoke-dried sea cucumber was affected by molds after by molds after 10-12 months of storage at room temperature. Proximate analysis showed that the product contains 18% moisture, 32.20% protein and 1.04% fat.

For more information, contact:

Philippine Council for Aquatic & Marine (PCAMRD-DOST)
Jamboree Rd., Brgy. Timugan, Los Banos, Laguna,
Telephone: (049) 536-1574/ 536-5578
TeleFax: (049) 536-5577 / 536-1566

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)
PCA Building, Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City
Tel. Nos. (02) 929-8074 / 929-9597
Email :[email protected]

Philippine Council for Industry & Energy (PCIERD-DOST)
Rm. 303 DOST Bldg., DOST Complex,
Gen. Santos Ave., Bicutan, Taguig City
Direct lines: (02) 837-6154; 837-2926; 837-2935
Trunk lines: (02) 837-2071 to 82 loc. 2120/2121

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