Sensory and storage qualities of elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum) shoots packed in citric acid

Author(s): Florence O.Uruakpa , Enoch N.T.Akobundu

Elephant grass (EG) shoots can make useful contribution in human nutrition. Nutrient-rich EG (1.0 g protein, 0.12% Ca, 0.07% P, 182-221 g /g carotene, 195-260 g/g -tocopherol) is distributed in tropical countries such as Africa, South America, southern United States, Puerto Rico and Philippines. Tender EG shoots are predominantly utilized fresh and this limits its availability and shelf-life. This study examined the sensory and storage characteristics of EG cuts preserved in two media. Blanched EG cuts packed in 1%(w/v) citric acid orNaClwere vacuum-sealed in 300 × 208 enamel cans, heat-processed in a vertical retort for 15, 20, 25, 30 min at 115.6ºC and stored for 0-3 months. Sensory and microbial properties of canned EG cuts were evaluated monthly for 3 months using standard protocols and its optimum processing conditions (20 min, 115.6ºC, 1% (w/v) citric acid, 300  208 can size) were established.After 3 months shelf storage, evidence from microbial assay of canned EG cuts showed no growth in the citric acid-packed samples while NaCl-packed cuts had some microbial growth in a decreasing trend as heating time increased. Sensory scores (6-point scale) of optimally processed canned EG cuts stored for 3 months showed that cuts packed in citric acid medium had higher sensory scores (colour: 4.69, aroma: 4.14, appearance: 4.63, taste: 3.46, texture: 4.14, acceptability: 4.31) thanNaCl-packed cuts (colour: 2.63, aroma: 3.17, appearance: 2.57, taste: 5.00, texture: 5.00, acceptability: 2.97) except for taste and texture. This indicates consumer acceptability and good storage quality for citric acid-packed cuts which retained most of its sensory qualities after 3 months. Effectively preserved and stored EG shoots can serve as a shelfstable veggie product inmalnutrition intervention programs for target populations.

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