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Journal of Food Engineering 89 (2008) 448–452

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Journal of Food Engineering

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Mechanical peeling of pumpkins. Part 1: Using an abrasive-cutter brush

Bagher Emadi a,*, M.H. Abbaspour-Fard a, P.K.D.V. Yarlagadda b
Department of Agricultural Machinery, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Azadi Square, P.O. Box 1163, Mashhad, Iran
School of Engineering Systems, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Combining the functional basis of current peeling methods led to the development of a new innovative
Received 30 January 2008 peeling method named the ‘‘abrasive-cutter brush”. It could utilize the benefits of the current peeling
Received in revised form 21 May 2008 methods. The flexibility of brushes could provide easy access of the brush’s protrusions to different areas
Accepted 21 May 2008
of the produce. Each protrusion on the brush, as a small cutting unit, cut and removed abrasively the peel
Available online 3 July 2008
pieces. The cutting action caused effective peeling while the abrasive action showed higher production
rate compared with the existing methods. The optimized results revealed peeling effects of 18.60%/
min and 20%/min for concave and convex areas, respectively at 0.18%/min peel losses. The optimum con-
Abrasive-cutter brush
Mechanical peeling
ditions of independent variables were 550 rpm for rotational velocity of brushes, 5 rpm for rotational
Pumpkin velocity of vegetable holder, 20 mm lower than the middle horizontal plane of produce for the position
of brushes, and medium for brush coarseness.
Ó 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction tions. Using abrasive peelers a constant depth of peeling is

achieved even in uneven surfaces of irregular shaped produce.
Peeling as the preliminary and main stage of post-harvest pro- Generally, reaching the peel in concave areas leads to unwanted
cessing is currently conducted by mechanical, chemical, and ther- peeling of the edible portions on convex areas or in the case of po-
mal methods (Luh and Woodroof, 1988; Toker and Bayindirli, tato, peeling should be continued until deep eyes are removed.
2003). Although each method has its own benefits and limitations, Emadi et al. (2007) revealed two innovative abrasive methods for
mechanical methods are preferred because it keeps edible portions the peeling of tough-skinned vegetables, such as pumpkin. They
of produce fresh and damage-free (Emadi et al., 2007). The main reported good results of even peeling in spite of the low production
limitations of mechanical methods are low flexibility and high rate for irregular shape and uneven surfaces of the Jap variety of
losses. Many researchers have tried to improve the efficiency of pumpkin. Peelers which apply cutting tools are less common than
mechanical peeling methods (Boyce, 1961; Cailliot, 1988; Couture abrasive ones. Knives, blades, and rotary cutters are the most com-
and Allard, 1979; Emadi et al., 2007; Gardiner, 1963; He and Tardif, mon cutting tools for these peelers. The rotation of the produce and
2000; Polk, 1972; Radhakrishnaiah Setty et al., 1993; Singh and cutting tool around the produce provides access to the whole sur-
Shukla, 1995). In spite of these attempts, there are still some lim- face of the produce to be peeled. Rotary cutters are the only flexible
itations which demand more research. ones among cutting tools showing good access to different parts of
In mechanical peeling of fruits and vegetables, using either uneven surfaces (Boyce, 1961; Cailliot, 1988; Emadi and Yarlag-
abrasive or cutting tools are the most common methods. Abrasive adda, 2006; Gardiner, 1963; Polk, 1972). Although one of the main
peelers can be found in batch and continuous types, and apply car- limitations of these peelers is the possible clogging during peeling,
borundum surfaces to peel produce by abrasion. These peelers the capability to peel tough-skinned vegetables is high because of
either have long abrasive rollers or an upright cylinder with abra- applying cutting forces. However, the authors believe to make a
sive inner wall. While the roller or cylinder revolves, the removed new peeling tool that is industrially applicable; the peeling pro-
peels are washed away with supplied water. Abrasive peelers are duction rate should still be increased compared to what is cur-
common for apples, carrots and potatoes (Radhakrishnaiah Setty rently used.
et al., 1993; Singh and Shukla, 1995). Despite the high peeling pro- The peeling method of using an abrasive-cutter brush was re-
duction rate, the main advantage, loading sensitivity and high vealed as an innovative method for peeling vegetables such as
waste of edible portions due to low flexibility are the main limita- pumpkin. The peeling tool in this method applies abrasive and cut-
ting forces simultaneously. The results of experiments showed
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +98 511 8795612; fax: +98 511 8787430.
even peeling with a high production rate. This paper presents
E-mail addresses:, investigative results of using an abrasive-cutter brush on a pump-
(B. Emadi). kin as a case study.

0260-8774/$ - see front matter Ó 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
B. Emadi et al. / Journal of Food Engineering 89 (2008) 448–452 449


y1 peel losses, percentage of initial produce weight A2 the fraction of remaining peel inside the internal area of
removed during peeling per minute the ring indicator after peeling
t the time of peeling, min l estimate of the mean response
W1 the weight of the unpeeled produce, g T mean of all experimental data
W2 the weight of the peeled produce, g LSxn optimal level sum response for the significant factor at
y2 peeling effect, the percentage of peel that is removed the level of interest
from the initial skin per minute
A1 the fraction of peel inside the internal area of the ring
indicator before peeling (assumed to be 100)

2. Experimental procedure 2.2. Design of experiments

2.1. Materials and methods L9 array of Taguchi method as a fracture factorial experiment
was planned and used. The experimental design including factor
The Jap variety of pumpkin (Cucurbitaceous family) from differ- levels is shown in Table 1. It enabled experiments for four factors
ent local farms around Brisbane (Queensland, Australia) was used in three levels each. Factors were the rotational velocity of the
for the experiments. The samples were randomly selected from abrasive-cutter brush (brush speed: 550, 700, 850 rpm), rotational
ripe, defect-free and similarly sized (18–23 cm diameter) pump- velocity of the vegetable holder (vegetable speed: 5, 10, 15 rpm),
kins. They were kept under controlled temperature (20–25 °C) the coarseness of the brush (coarseness: C for coarse; M for med-
and humidity (50–55%) for at least 24 h before the test. ium; and F for fine) and vertical position of the brush (position:
Experiments were conducted on a test rig that was designed 20, 0, 20 mm, with reference to the middle horizontal plane of
and fabricated at the School of Engineering Systems, QUT (Emadi, the produce). Experiments were carried out in four time intervals
2006). The test rig comprised of two main sections the vegetable (t1–t4), each of which lasted for 1 min. The dependent variables
holder and peeler head. The vegetable holder (Fig. 1a) was a disk were peel losses and peeling effects in concave and convex areas
for carrying the produce circularly on a horizontal plane. It sup- of the skin. These response variables were measured after each
plied rotational velocities up to 300 rpm by a D.C. motor. The pee- time interval and their mean (%/min) was used for assessment.
ler head was equipped in such a way that could provide
perpendicular access to the produce’s surface (Fig. 1b). A separate 2.3. Peel losses
D.C. motor was used with a higher upper speed limit (2000 rpm)
that could carry the abrasive-cutter brushes on its output shaft. Percentage peel losses were calculated using the weight of the
The whole peeler head attachment was mounted on a pivoted produce before and after peeling, as given below (Willard, 1971):
bracket to give more flexibility during peeling (Fig. 2a). The vege- W1  W2
table holder was driven in an anticlockwise direction on a horizon- y1 ¼  100 ð1Þ
W1  t
tal plane and the peeler head was driven in a clockwise direction
on a vertical plane (in two perpendicular directions). where W2 is not equal either to zero or to W1. Samples were
The peeling tool named ‘‘abrasive-cutter brush” was basically weighed before (W1) and immediately after peeling (W2) by a scale
twisted stainless steel wires with grater strips (different grades) with ±1 g accuracy.
wrapped around (Fig. 2b). The stainless steel wires were already
double-twisted wires of the same materials. Two abrasive-cutter 2.4. Peeling effect
brushes were installed between solid discs of the peeler head
attachment for each trial. The total length and weight of each brush Peeling effect is the percentage of peel that is removed from the
was 165 mm and 14.75 g, respectively. The materials and method initial skin per minute. Three positions (120° including angle) at
of brush fabrication was planned in such a manner to provide high the circular affected area on the produce for each convex and con-
flexibility. cave area were considered for the measurement of the peeling ef-

Fig. 1. Test rig component: (a) vegetable holder, (b) perpendicular access to the produce’s surface.
450 B. Emadi et al. / Journal of Food Engineering 89 (2008) 448–452

Fig. 2. Abrasive-cutter brush: (a) peeler head attachment, (b) abrasive-cutter brush.

Table 1 40
Taguchi experimental design for independent variables and levels

Exp. No.b Independent variablesa


Contribution (%)
v1 v2 v3 v4
1 C 5 700 20
2 C 10 850 20
3 C 15 550 0
4 F 5 850 0
5 F 10 550 20
6 F 15 700 20 10
7 M 5 550 20
8 M 10 700 0
9 M 15 850 20
v1 = brush coarseness (C: coarse, F: fine, M: medium), v2 = vegetable speed Vegetable Brush Brush Brush
(rpm), v3 = brush speed (rpm), v4 = brush position (mm). speed coarseness speed position
Experiments were randomly performed. Independent variables
Fig. 3. The contribution of independent variables to responses: ( ), Peel losses;
( ), Concave peeling effect; ( ), Convex peeling effect.

fect. The peeling effect (%/min) after each time interval (t1–t4) was
measured at the same position, and the mean value was calculated
for further discussion. A ring indicator with an internal diameter of 3. Results and discussion
15 mm was used to identify the area of measurement on each po-
sition. Optical judgment was made by three observers and the The contribution of independent variables, including brush
average value was reported. Remaining peel inside the indicator speed, vegetable speed, position and brush coarseness to depen-
was recorded noting the different colors of skin layers, thickness dent variables (peel losses and peeling effects), while neglecting
and area, and these were the main criteria for assessment. The sug- the interactions, was statistically calculated which is shown in
gested formula by Singh and Shukla (1995) was used and modified Fig. 3.
for the calculation of the peeling effect as given below: As the aim of this study was to investigate the method and not
the peeler, the manufactured test rig was designed to enable peel-
A1  A2 ing on a circumferential band (40.66 mm average width) around
y2 ¼  100 ð2Þ
A1  t the whole produce and the experimental data belongs to that area.
The ANOVA results of the experiments are shown in Table 2.
2.5. Estimated responses at the optimum conditions The main influences of independent variables on dependent
variables are illustrated in Fig. 4. In this figure, the logarithmic
The estimation of the mean response in optimum conditions scale for y axis was used to enable comparison between peel losses
(optimization) was carried out on the basis of the Taguchi analysis and peeling effects.
of variance (ANOVA) by applying the following equation (Roy, According to the data represented in Table 2, the only indepen-
1990): dent variable that could significantly (P < 0.01) affect all three
dependent variables is coarseness. The fine brush showed higher
peeling effects in comparison with the other levels. The medium
l ¼ T þ ðLSx1  TÞ
 þ ðLSx  TÞ
 þ    þ ðLSx  TÞ
coarsened brush had a lower peeling effect than the fine type
and showed much lower peel losses (Fig. 4a). The small existing
2.6. Data analysis difference of peeling effects between concave and convex areas
for different levels of coarsenesses reveals the possibility of achiev-
Analysis of variance has been carried out on the basis of the ing more even peeling by improving the coarseness of the brush.
Taguchi method. It was used to calculate the contribution of inde- Higher contribution (Fig. 4) of coarseness to concave than convex
pendent variables and their effect on the response variables. Esti- peeling effects may result from more affected areas of peel by each
mation of the results in optimum conditions was also carried out brush’s smash (the colliding action of brush with produce) inside
using Taguchi method. grooves than on convex areas. Vegetable speed also showed a
B. Emadi et al. / Journal of Food Engineering 89 (2008) 448–452 451

Table 2
The ANOVA results of experiments

Independent variables Degrees of freedom Sum of squares Variance F Sig.

Concave peeling effect
Brush coarseness 2 666.24 333.12 16.05 p < 0.01
Vegetable speed 2 191.7 95.85 4.61 p < 0.05
Brush speed 2 103.03 51.51 2.48 –
Brush position 2 191.21 95.60 4.60 p < 0.05
Convex peeling effect
Brush coarseness 2 418.88 209.44 8.21 p < 0.01
Vegetable speed 2 281.34 140.67 5.51 p < 0.01
Brush speed 2 550.09 275.04 10.78 p < 0.01
Brush position 2 18.60 9.30 0.36 –
Peel losses
Brush coarseness 2 0.29 0.14 6.59 p < 0.01
Vegetable speed 2 0.05 0.02 1.13 –
Brush speed 2 0.1 0.05 2.27 –
Brush position 2 0.05 0.02 1.12 –

a C F M b 5 10 15
100 100

Peel losses and peeling effects

Peel losses and peeling effects

10 10



Brush coarseness Vegetable speed (rpm)

c 550 700 850 d -20 0 20

100 100
Peel losses and peeling effects
Peel losses and peeling effects

10 10


1 1

0.1 0.1
Brush speed (rpm) Brush position (mm)
Fig. 4. The effects of independent variables on responses resulted from using an abrasive-cutter brush: (––), peel losses; (–j–), concave peeling effect; (–N–), convex
peeling effect. Error bars depict standard deviations.

significant effect on convex (P < 0.01) and concave (P < 0.05) peel- creased brush speed which leads to a stronger smash and the
ing effects. Although the peeling effect in different areas for all higher removal of peels in both concave and convex areas. Higher
three levels of vegetable speed was almost the same (Fig. 4b), contribution of brush speed to convex than concave peeling effects
the mid-level of vegetable speed (10 rpm) revealed a higher impact (Fig. 3) allows monitoring of peeling at convex areas for achieving
on responses than on other levels. Brush speed was the higher con- more even peeling. Position, as the last variable, only showed a sig-
tributor (P < 0.01) to the convex than concave peeling effects, and nificant effect (P < 0.05) for the concave peeling effect. The third
did not show any significant effect on all three responses. level of position (+20 mm) showed a significant difference between
The variable of brush speed, as seen in Fig. 4c, highly influenced concave and convex peeling effects which is unexplained in this
peel losses and peeling effects at the third level (850 rpm) while stage. The lower level of brush position (20 mm) revealed the
the effect of peeling in concave and convex areas for different lev- lowest peel losses in spite of the similar peeling effects compared
els of brush speed is almost the same. This is mainly due to in- with the other levels of position.
452 B. Emadi et al. / Journal of Food Engineering 89 (2008) 448–452

3.1. Estimated responses at the optimum conditions pumpkin was investigated. Estimated responses in optimum
conditions showed close values of peeling effect in concave and
The high concave and convex peeling effects with minimum dif- convex areas. The statistical calculations of optimized results re-
ference between them along with low peel losses were the criteria vealed 18.60%/min and 20%/min for concave and convex peeling
for the best combination of variables. The performance in optimum effects, respectively, with 0.18%/min peel losses. The results
conditions was estimated based on the significant factors at 0.05 showed this new method of peeling for pumpkin compare to the
probability level. previous ones has higher production rate of even peeling with
The brush with medium coarseness revealed a significant even lower losses.
peeling in different areas of the produce. The high productivity of
the peel removal with a minor difference between concave and
convex peeling effects, in addition to acceptable peel losses led References
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