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V.R. Sagar

A study entitled “Effect of harvest maturity and drying methods on the quality of dehydrated bitter gourd (Momordica charantia L.) rings” was conducted at the Division of Post Harvest Technology, IARI, New Delhi during 2006-2008. Four bitter gourd cultivars namely Pusa Do-Mousami, Pusa Vishesh, Pusa Hybrid-1 and Pusa Hybrid-2 were studied to find out the optimum harvest maturity of their fruits for preparation of better quality of dehydrated bitter gourd rings. The 12 day after fruit set of bitter gourd was found optimum harvest maturity for preparation of dehydrated rings with maximum retention of total chlorophyll and ascorbic acid as well as better drying and rehydration ratio prepared from all the four cultivars. The thickness of 1.5 cm of fresh fruit slice was found to be the best for maximum retention of nutritional quality and better sensory score in respect of colour, flavour, texture and overall acceptability in comparison to 1.0 cm and 2.0 cm thick fruit slices. To optimize the pretreatments in all the four cultivars for retaining high content of total chlorophyll, ascorbic acid, β-carotene, total carotenoids and better drying characteristics as well as sensory qualities, the bitter gourd rings were treated with different blanching treatments, viz. control (T0), water blanching (T1), blanching in 2 per cent salt solution (T2), water blanching followed by soaking in 0.2 per cent KMS solution for 15 min (T3), and soaking in 0.3 per cent KMS solution for 15 min followed by blanching in water (T4), then dried at 58 ±20 C in a cabinet drier, up to a final moisture content of 4-5 per cent. Among the treatments water blanching followed by soaking in 0.2 per cent KMS solution for 15 min (T3) in PH-2 cultivar was found to be the best for retaining high quantity of ascorbic acid, total chlorophyll, β-carotene, total carotenoids and low contents of reducing and total sugars in the dehydrated bitter gourd rings. However, among the cultivars, Pusa Hybrid-2 was found the best for preparation of dehydrated bitter gourd rings. Further to find out the most appropriate drying conditions, the treated samples were subjected to three different drying methods, i.e., cabinet drier, solar drier and low temperature drier. Among them, cabinet drier was found to be best drying method for dehydration of bitter gourd rings, as it took less time to dry the material to a low moisture content at which the product retained higher content of ascorbic acid, total chlorophyll, β-carotene and total carotenoids with longer shelf life. With regards to packaging material and mode of pack used for packaging and storage study of dehydrated bitter gourd rings, the packaging material of 260 g ALPE pouches with nitrogen gas followed by storage at low temperature was found to be the best storage condition for retaining better nutritional qualities in comparison to other packaging materials of 200g HDPE and 200g LDPE pouches. However, the ascorbic acid, total chlorophyll, β-carotene, total carotenoids, rehydration ratio and sensory score decreased with advancement of storage period, while moisture content, reducing sugars, total sugars and NEB increased during the six months of storage.



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