DRDO has developed value-added products such as osmotic dried (whole and
halves), intermeDIATe moisture (IM) and hurdle technology (HT) apricot as well
as apricot leathers using moisture control and dehydration techniques. Methods
were standardised to prepare shelf-stable fruit slices of moisture content 50-55
per cent (HT), 30-35 per cent (IM), 20 to 25 per cent (dehydrated) and 18-20 per
cent (leather). Reduction in the water activity (aw) was achieved through
osmosis using sugar syrup. Products obtained remained stable at ambient
temperature in flexible laminate pouches.
Different varieties of Apricot, viz., Halman, Rakchey Karpo, Rakchey Karpo
special, Afghani, Australian, Chamagz, Top working and Nari grown and available
at FRL, Leh as well as local market were subjected to processing and catagorised
according to their suitability for drying as whole or halves. The varieties
which were not suitable for drying were converted into apricot leather/bar.
Osmotic dehydration followed by hot air drying was found to be a suitable method
to get an acceptable product. Pretreatments like selection and sorting of fresh
fruit, washing and chemical dipping improved the quality of apricot products.
Ley peeling was found to be beneficial for processing of whole fruit by removing
the waxy coat and thereby reducing the drying time. Further, the sulphur
treatment improved the colour and delayed browning. HT product produced by
soak-infusion in sugar solution followed by pasteurisation was comparable to
fresh in quality. Treatment with additives improved substantially the texture of
IM, HT and leather products.
The processes developed are simple and easy to adopt by small scale
industries of Ladakh region. The product can be stored in flexible packs. DRDO
developed fruit-based technologies have attracted many entrepreneurs and can
boost the economy of Ladakh region.