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One of the many dilemmas farmers and households face is how to increase the shelf life of fresh vegetables. Vegetables and fruits can easily get rotten due to the amount of moisture in them. One of the most common ways of preserving and increasing the shelf life of vegetables is through refrigeration. This is not exactly a reliable method due to the frequent power cuts experienced in this part of the world. Some vegetables can also lose their crispness, natural taste, and flavor when frozen. So how do you preserve and increase the shelf life of your vegetables? In this article, I’ll tell you how.
How to Increase the Shelf Life of Vegetables By Processing Into Powder
One of the many ways of processing tomatoes, onions, pepper, etc. include making them into powders. Though not very common in Nigeria, vegetable powders have longer shelf life than most of the processed vegetable products. It is also the only preservation technique that does not necessarily require preservatives to increase shelf life of vegetables. Processing into powder increase shelf life of vegetables.
Steps for Making Vegetable Powder
1. Drying and Sorting
The major and most intricate process of making vegetable powder is drying. If the drying process is successfully carried out, the entire process is headed for a hitch-free ride to favorable completion. The fully ripened, firm and blemish-free vegetables and fruits are washed, sliced, and dried in this step.
Determinant Factors of Drying
No matter the scale of production, either for home, small scale, or large-scale commercial production, the following are determinants of the quality of the final product.
a. Dehydration Method: This is the major factor that can make or mar your vegetable powder production. The dehydration method also includes a source of heat. There are different methods, electrical and solar. The quality solar dryer manufacturer in Northern Nigeria is Osomobegbe Global Ventures (OGV).
b. Humidity: the level of humidity in the dried vegetables will determine the shelf life of the powder. The level of humidity is the amount of water content in the dried vegetables. the lower it is, the longer the final product will last. Dried vegetables and fruits are chips.
c. Nature of the Dried Chips: The texture, color, and uniformity of the chips are also key in the quality of the final product. The blackness of the chips will reduce aesthetics. Overdried chips will give flaky texture, and ununiform drying will affect the quality of the powder.
2. Sorting and Blending
After the chips have been adequately dried, sorting should be done to enhance uniformity of color, texture, and humidity. The chips are then ready for grinding or blending. After grinding, depending on the preference of the producer or final consumers, the powder can be sieved.
3. Packaging, Labeling and Storing
After sieving, the powder can now be package in desirable containers labeled with the date of production, production batch, best before date, and handling instructions. If stored in a cool, dry place without exposure to humidity, the powder can last for at least 6 months.