Pito is a traditional alcoholic beverage that is mostly brewed in the three northern regions of Ghana. Although widely consumed and used in many festivities, poor storability limits its economic potential as an income-generating venture for most women. This study was carried out to improve the shelf-life of pito through the addition of Moringa oleifera leaf extract and pasteurization (75 to 80°C). Microbial enumeration, physico-chemical parameters (pH, extract (%) and alcohol) and consumer preference scores were used as quality indices of each pito treatment carried out. There was a general decline in coliform and fungi growth and in the physico-chemical (pH, extract (%) and alcohol) properties during the 56 days of storage. Microbial load, extract (%), alcohol content and pH were significantly different (P<0.05) among treatments. Pasteurized moringa pito had the least microbial load. The treated pito samples had higher values in pH, extract (%) and alcohol content than the untreated pito during storage. There was high consumer acceptability of pasteurized pito from the 0 day to the 28 days of storage, with a mean score of 4.27 ± 0.75 to 3.61 ± 1.36. However, the moringa treated pito (pasteurized moringa pito and moringa pito) was less preferred (with a mean score of 2.86 ± 1.19 to 1.87 ± 0.92) from the 0 day to the 28 days of storage. The untreated pito was also acceptable for a period of seven days. Based on the findings of this research, it can be concluded that pasteurization and/or the addition of M. oleifera leaf extract can improve the shelf-life of pito for four weeks, but addition of moringa extract in pito reduced consumer preference for it. Further research using other antimicrobial plants is recommended as consumers did not like pito with the M. oleifera leaf extract.
Key words: Moringa, pasteurization, pito, shelf-life, storage.
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