Full Length Research Paper
Over the last few years, the production of plantain has been increasing due to the introduction of some high yielding varieties. Unfortunately, very high post-harvest losses are incurred annually due to lack of appropriate storage technologies. This study evaluated the effect of shea butter as a food-grade wax on the pre-climacteric life and sensory qualities of four plantain varieties (Apem, Apentu,Asamienu and Oniaba). Waxing was achieved by brushing shea butter on fruits surfaces. The fruit diameter before waxing (d1) and after waxing (d2) was measured and the difference (d2-d1) taken as the waxing thickness. Parameters assessed were the uniformity of ripening, gloss quality, incidence of off-flavours and disorders. Waxing thickness of 0.5 and 1 mm resulted in irregular ripening, green-soft disorder and off-flavours. However, thin layer waxing (<0.05mm) prolonged the pre-climacteric life to 22, 20, 17, and 15 days in Apem, Apentu,Oniaba and Asamienu respectively. A prolonged post-climacteric life from 4 to 6 days across varieties as well as firm texture at senescence was recorded. Shea butter waxing resulted in significant decrease (P<0.001) in physiological weight loss of 9.46% by 22 days after storage compared to control which had 21.25% by 10 days of storage. Principal component analysis of sensory attributes showed that mouth-feel, colour, flavour and tastes accounted for 36.67 % of data variation whist texture alone accounted for 21.1% of data variability. Due to increasing lobby against the use of post-harvest chemicals, as consumers now want products with high nutritional value rather than having just superior external qualities, the use of shea butter as a food-grade wax can be further explored since no safety or residual effect is foreseeable.
Key words: Plantain, food-grade waxing, shelf life, sensory qualities.
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