You buy the ripe mangoes and have to finish them in the next two days. How about if you extend the shelf life of your favourite Dasseri, Langda or Aplhonso?
That would soon be possible. If the research now being conducted at the Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET), Chandigarh, meets with success, the shelf life of mangoes and guavas would be considerably increased. The Institute has come up with alternative edible coating materials from rice, cassava, chitosan and turmeric by developing starch-based edible bio-coating, with clinical trials still going on before it hits the market.
Elaborating on the technique Dr Ramesh Kumar, scientist (horticulture), CIPHET, Abohar, Punjab, in an e-mail interview to The Indian Express, stated that the fruits are dipped in a starch-based solution, dried by air and conserved at ambient temperature. The formation of starch film or bio-coating is based on the principle of gelatinisation of starch that occurs above certain temperature with excess of water. After cooling, it forms a transparent film with properties of biodegradable product. These coatings are less permeable to reparatory gases such as O2 but are more permeable to water vapour, compared to commercial wax coatings and other plastic covering material.
The bio-coating was now being tested for its effects on external and internal quality parameters for fruits like mango and guava. The research going on at present proved that bio-coating can extend the shelf life of mango by four days (even more days if moisture loss of fruit is checked) as compared to fruit that is not coated.
Dr Kumar said the current developed bio-coatings presented beneficial effect in maintaining the fruit firmness even after eight days of ambient storage and the fruits were well accepted by the consumers at the end of storage period.