Vegetables and fruits are highly perishable. So they should be preserved in a suitable way. When conditions are not suitable for storage or immediate marketing of fresh produce, horticultural crops can be processed using simple technologies. There are various methods are present for processing of fruits and vegetables.
Different fruits and vegetables processing are depends on their nature and kind of products to be manufactured. Some basic step for processing are given bellow-Collection of raw materials: The raw materials to be used for processing should be harvested at the proper stage of maturity depending on the nature of the products. The raw materials should be of good quality and free from insect, pest and diseases.
Fruits and vegetables should be properly washed before processing to remove undesirable materials including soil, dirt, fungal structures, stones, gravels and other foreign materials. Fruits and vegetables should be washed properly with running water or chlorinated water.
The purpose of sorting is to separate the undesirable fruits and vegetables from the lot. Damaged, bruised, malformed, under or over sized fruits or vegetables should be sorted out. Sorting is also practiced for separating the ripe fruits from the unripe fruits.
Peeling and cutting:
Fruits and vegetables are peeled and cut into pieces or into slices before processing. These operations depend on the nature of the raw materials and kind of the final products. Example-some products like mango pickle, fruits are sliced but not always peeled, on the other hand olive pickle, whole fruits are used.
Blanching and sulphiting:
Blanching and sulphting are very important operations in fruits and vegetables processing. These treatments improve the quality and keeping properties f the products. Potassium or sodium metabisulphite are used for these processes.
It is an important operation in fruits and vegetables processing to destroy microorganisms to make the products preservable for longer period of time. Cooking in boiling water or heating or autoclaving or steaming or washing with chlorinated water are the commonly practiced methods of sterilization.
Proper packaging is a pre- requisite for maintaining optimal quality of the processed products in the shelf and for creating customer attention. Dried products should be packaged in air tight containers. For example- cellophane is used to wrap and to bag the finished dried products. Product processed by heat ( juice, syrup, jams, jellies and marmalade) are packed in bottles and jars to achieve a good seal. Container should be properly label.
Processed products should be stored properly to achieve their potential shelf life. The dried products and the canned or bottled products are best stored in cool and dark place. Refrigerating storage facilities are required for some product like fresh juice or minimally processed products.