AbstractA study was conducted to determine the preharvest changes in the physical and chemical characteristics of plantains of the Guayamero and Maricongo cultivars. The average weight of the fruit, the length of the fruit, the cross-sectional dimensions, pulp texture, and pulp:peel ratios were determined for each hand of the bunch at several time intervals after flowering. Starch, total and reducing-sugar content, total acidity, and pH were also measured in fruit from the third hand. Statistical analysis of the data on the measurements taken from fruit from the third hand shows significant correlations between age and pulp:peel ratios. A highly significant correlation was also found between age and texture, the fruit becoming softer as it matured. A significant correlation at the 5-percent level was found between age and average fruit-weight in the Maricongo cultivar, but no similar correlation was found in plantains of the Guayamero cultivar. The fruit becomes more plump and round with age, but wide variations in the cross-sectional area in fruit harvested at any age made it impossible to correlate cross-sectional dimensions with age. Analysis indicated that no changes in the chemical composition of the fruit took place. The quality and appearance ratings of fried-plantain slices prepared from frozen green plantains were affected by the age at which the fruit was harvested. Higher quality products were prepared from the more mature fruit. Since not only the quality of processed products, but also the yields are affected by the stage of maturity at which the fruit is harvested, fruit for processing should be harvested when as mature as possible, but still in the green stage.
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