Effects of moisture barrier and initial moisture content on the storage life of some horticultural produce in evaporative coolant
Shelf-life of five horticultural produce were studied. These include three leafy vegetables: Telfairia occidentalis, Celosia argentea and Amaranthus cruentus and two fruit vegetables: Lycopersicum esculentum and Abelmuschus esculentus. The layout plan of the experiment was a 3x2 factorial in a completely randomized design and each treatment replicated three times. The two factors examined were moisture barrier at three levels namely: thick lining, thin lining and non-lining. The other factor included initial moisture content of the produce, namely, turgid and partially wilted. Partial wilting of the produce was achieved by exposing freshly harvested materials at ambient temperature to dry for 45 min. During this period, about 20% of the moisture content was lost. Eighteen (18) vegetable baskets which work on the principle of evaporative cooling system were used. Each type of produce was stored at a time inside the vegetable basket. Some quantity of each produce were kept on the laboratory benches to serve as controls. Data recorded includes length of storage of produce, severity of disease infection, visual quality, disease incidence, ambient temperature and relative humidity of the storage baskets. The result indicates that there was a significantly higher relative humidity (P< 0.05) in the lined baskets than in the non-lined baskets. Consequently, the shelf-life of produce in lined basket was prolonged. Turgid produce had better quality retention and stored much longer than partially wilted produce. Generally, the evaporative coolant baskets provided an average temperature of 3°C lower than the ambient condition. The shelf-life of leaf vegetables T. occidentalis, C. argentea and A. cruentus was extended appreciably for 78 days compared to the controls.
Keywords: Evaporative coolant, moisture barrier, shelf-life of horticultural produce.