|Written by zubair|
|Sunday, 10 April 2011 15:28|
Page 1 of 8
As Upper Himalayas manifest diverse agroclimatic conditions varying from subtropical, wet temperate to dry temperate, cold desert areas, the different types of agricultural crops grown, vary from cereals, pulses, oil seeds, sugar cane, root crops, vegetables to subtropical fruits viz. mango, aonla, citrus fruits, litchi, grapes, etc. temperate fruits like apple, pear, apricot, peach etc. and nut crops like walnut, almond etc. The methods of handling, packaging, storage and preparation of different products and their subsequent consumption also varies with the wide agro-climatic diversity in the region. Most food products currently available in the market are essentially improvements/refinements of indigenous technical knowledge of postharvest management of food crops. However, there are still a number of traditional postharvest skills, which can be commercially exploited. Some traditional foods/products help to cure ailments and have been used as home remedies, while others are environment friendly and do not cause any health hazards despite their continuous use. This is an effort to document available information on postharvest operations of storage, curing and drying.
Curing of Cereals
This is a common practice in the lower elevations of the state and has a scientific basis.
Fig. 7.1a Maize curing by stacking (Thua or Zhumb)
Stacking of maize in the Zhumb for 30-45 days, ensures ripening and it also facilitates the easy separation of cobs from the husk. Curing results from heat and moisture equilization in the grains in the Zhumb. It has also been observed that initially sweet grains, upon complete drying and curing, become tasteless which is attributable to the conversion of sugars to starch, a common phenomenon also observed in pea and maize grains.
ii) Harvested paddy is tied into small bundles. Each bundle is called Pooli or Poola. After drying under open condition for 3-4 days, all bundles are stacked at one place and allowed to remain there for few days. Each stack is called a Kundli (Fig. 7.1b).iii) Similarly, millet grains called Mandal or Sonk are allowed to ripen partially by stacking them in a heap and covering the heap with tarpoline. This procedure is locally termed Garr Dena.
The preparation of small bundles Pahra, Pooli or Poola help in easy handling and quick drying. Stacking bundles in heaps possibly aids heat and moisture regulation thereby resulting in uniform ripening. The creation of moist heat also leads to curing which eases the process of threshing the grains.
Fig. 7.1b Sun drying of paddy in stack (Kundli)
Curing of Chilgoza (Pinus gerardiana)
In Kinnaur, chilgoza seeds are separated from the cones by collecting the harvested cones at one place and covering them with chilgoza pine needles, leaves and soil. After 15-20 days, the chilgoza cons are cut-open using a sharp edged axe (Behla), with a gentle strike the seeds are easily separated. The procedure of covering harvested cones with pine needles, leaves and soil possibly helps in maintaining desired temperature and humidity inside the heap, which results in the curing of cones.
i) Winnowing of grain and pulses is a common practice in every home in Himachal. It is performed using a container made of tin, called Stoop or Chhaj. The grains are placed in the Chhaj and slow winnowing leads to separation of dirt and husk from the grain. Almost all types of dry grain like wheat, maize, paddy, pulses etc. can be cleaned in this manner (Fig. 7.2).
ii) Bulk cleaning of grain is done using a container made up of bamboo sticks called Panaudi (Fig. 7.3). The dry grain, placed in the Panaudi, are allowed to fall from a height of about 4-5 ft in a thin vertical flow in the path of a cross wind. The lighter dirt particles and husk are blown away and the heavier grain is thus separated as it falls straight to the ground. The use of a fan (mechanical or electrical) greatly accelerates this process of cleaning. This method of cleaning is based on the differences in density of the materials to be separated. The use of modern air separators/cyclone separators for grain cleaning is based on this principle.
Fig. 7.3 Panaudi for cleaning grains as well for separating husk from grain
|Last Updated on Sunday, 10 April 2011 16:56|