Donkey dung sea cucumber (Holothuria mexicana) and Three rowed sea cucmber (Isostichopus badionotus) are commercial species fished in Belize.
Fishing season is from March 15th– June 30th, 2021 or upon realization of the catch quota
Receiving Sea Cucumber at our Facility
All sea cucumber brought by licensed fishermen at the Fein catch Ltd processing facility must be ice chilled (0 to 5 degrees Celsius) and be eviscerated from the mouth towards the body (preferably 1 to 3 inches slit depending on the size of sea cucumber).
To avoid any damage or discoloration of product, it is preferable for fisherman to transport in plastic bags to the facility thus maintaining a good quality product.
The sea cucumber are then selected based on color and texture, sea cucumbers that exhibit good color and texture (Grade A) are then selected for processing, this is based on processor’s knowledge .
On the other hand sea cucumbers that are slightly discolored (1 white streak on flesh) or are slightly flaccid are then classified as Grade B.
Lastly sea cucumbers that are have more than one streaks and are completely flaccid are then rejected.
Selected sea cucumbers are then weighed and then classified as Grade A or Grade B.
Prior to cooking, potable water is heated until boiling
Point (100 degrees Celsius) is reached
Salt added (1:10 ratio) based on weight of product:
(ie. For every 10 pounds of raw material one pound of salt is used).
Thereafter, product is transferred to the pots and cooked for 40 to 60 minutes of continuously stirring. This cooking process ensures properly cooked product which attains a “hard to rubbery” texture is attained and ready for the next step of the process.
Acetic Acid Soak and Soda Bath Process
In batches of 70 lbs. the sea cucumbers are transferred in tubs containing food grade glacial acetic acid 99 % solution with water at a ratio of 1:8 (ie. 1 kg of acetic acid to 8 kg of raw product).
The acid/water baths containing product are then left to soak for a minimum of 12 to 15 hours. The purpose of the acid water solution is utilized as a disinfectant, cleaning and releasing any debris inside the and outside of the sea cucumber making it easier to wash and process.
After soaking, the product is then thoroughly rinsed with fresh water to wash off any excess residue of the acid solution.
Transfer to a final bath with food grade caustic soda at a dose of (1 mg of caustic soda for 215 grs of product) is done for a minimum of 12- 15 hours. The caustic soda solution bath acts as an Alkali to neutralize any remaining acid residue on the raw product.
Lastly, its rinsed with fresh water thoroughly, left to soak in fresh water overnight and washed the next day.
Drying & Smoking
After each day of the sun drying is concluded, the product is then transferred to the smoke house, where it is stacked on racks and smoked using a steel drum with coal, positioned in the middle of each row of the racks.
The process of sun drying and smoking is repeated for the period of 20-30 days, the time of drying may also vary depending on the size of the sea cucumber (larger ones would take more time to dry than smaller size ones).
After the sun drying and smoking period is completed (20-30 days), the completely dried sea cucumber is then classified by size and then packed based consumer’s demands.
The completely dried product must be stored in dry cool area so to preserve and maintain its quality.