Effect of some processing and Storage methods on the Quality of Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) Fruits

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Three experiments were conducted on the research farm and in the laboratory of the Department of Horticulture,Kwame Nkrumah University of Sciencf and Technology between April 2003 and March 2006 to study the effects of some post harvest processing and storage methods on the quality of okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) fruits. A variety of okra, with accession number KNUST/SL/03, from the Department of Horticulture was grown using seeds selected from a previous cultivation of the crop. Fruits were harvested at two stages of maturity, four and six days after fruit set, and used in the three experiments of fresh fruit storage, immersing fruits in hot water before storage and solar drying of fruits. Fruits for storage were packed in polypropylene and polyethylene bags with and without perforation. Data was collected on vegetative and reproductive parameters and days to first and second harvest after planting. External quality assessment based on colour, size and shape (shrivelling) was done on fruits before and after the storage period. The fruits were analysed in the laboratory for viscosity and nutrient content before and after storage. Results from the fresh storage experiment showed that: fresh okra fruits packed in both ployethylene bags and stored at 7-9oC stayed up to 24 days with no significant (p ≤0.05) weight loss. Viscosity of all stored samples decreased with increasing storage period and the loss in viscosity ranged between 67.6-71.6% for packed fruits.Apart from Vitamin C all other nutrient elements tested did not reduce sigificantly over the storage period. Total friut salvage was 68.3% and 93.3% for packed samples from fruits harvested at four and six days after fruit set respectively, indicating that packing using polyprolylene and ployethylene with and without perforation for storage gave longer shelf life without marked changes in useable qualities of the produce. Fruits immersed in hot water before storage showed a very fast rate of detoriotion during storage. Fruit weight was quite stable but the colour changed to oak brown within 16 days of storage. No fruit were salvaged at the end of the experiment, indicating that fruits immersed in hot water did not last for the 24 days storage period. Nutrient content, weight, viscosity and colour of dried produce showed that drying is suitable for processing okra to store for longer shelf-life without a significant loss in colour and internal qualities
A thesis submitted to the School Of Research and Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi Ghana in Partial Fulfillment of The Requirements for the Award of Master of Philosophy (Post Harvest Physiology) degree.