Ziziphus mauritiana Lamk. (Ber) fruit is harvested at different stages of ripening in the Zambezi valley of Zimbabwe. We hypothesize that the organoleptic quality attributes of fruits depend on post-harvest drying method and ripening stage at harvest. This study was carried out to evaluate the effect of different stages of ripening on the quality of Z. mauritiana fruits during drying. The fruits were graded into green, yellowish-brown and brown categories and these formed the treatments. Some of these fruits were blanched before drying for 1, 2 and 3 weeks under the solar dryer and the open sun drying methods. The green fruits lost significantly (P<0.001) more weight during drying than the yellowish-brown and brown fruits regardless of the drying methods. The development of browning was more on the brown fruits than the green and yellowish-brown fruits.
Key words: Ber, drying method, post harvest quality, blanching, fruit colour, harvesting stage.
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