Monday, June 30, 2014

The Chemical Engineering Guide to Mango Ripening

He is definitely right.

Of course I would expect him to be right. I'd expect nothing less. to be honest. A PhD graduate from Newcastle University to boot and has been living in Perlis all his life, I would think. Nearly, at the very least.

You need hot and humid weather to successfully plant Harumanis. The coolness of Ulu Langat would not do it. As it is hot in Perlis - I am still trying to find out why it is hot there, I think it is hot in KL too, it is the perfect weather for mangoes. KL is nearer to the equator than Pengelih.

You need 40 C temperature and humidity of 85% for mango trees to prosper, to be precise.

So you are right, Doc Farizul. You have been vindicated by none other than The Chemical Engineers (TCE). TCE for the uninitiated is the official magazine of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (UK).

But there are more to it than just the weather. It explains about ripening mangoes too vis-a-vis Malawi Mangoes. While it talks about temperature and humidity as they would normally be in chemical engineering processes, it talks deeply about Ethylene and CO2, which are very important factor in the ripening process of fruits in general. One need about 50 ppm of Ethylene and 2-3% of CO2 for this process to take off.

To do this, a ripening chamber so that one can control the environment for ripening is built. I am not sure if UniMAP has this or not. Doc, is there one? May be we can build one? ;) Can I send my Chokanan for ripening in your chamber? I will do the lecture for your student yearly FOC!

It also talks about how the ripening process works on positive feedback loop. The more Ethylene is produce, the quicker the ripening process and the more Ethylene is produced, it will get even quicker. I would expect exponential growth in the ripening process.

In our normal non chamber environment that is our house, how do you get the Ethylene required? I don't think I can go to PETRONAS and try and get Ethylene from Ethylene Malaysia plant in Kerteh. No one would sell me such a small amount. There is hardly any Ethane from our LPG for me to produce the double bond Ethylene.

But nature has a quick solution for us.

To quicken the process, get banana into the vicinity of the mango. They produced abundant of Ethylene during their own ripening process and hence it is good for the mangoes. Banana is cheap too, and while waiting for the mangoes to ripen, one can eat the ripe banana!

As the mango ripen, starch is turned into simple sugar as you can see in the chart below - as it ripens, sugar concentration will increase and starch will decrease (red and blue lines respectively in the chart below. But as they as they over ripen and begin to rot, these sugars will be turned into Ethanol (green line in Figure 2).

That's chemical engineering for you albeit one in the food processing area, which is the territory of the departmant of Bioprocessing at UniMAP.

Over to you Doc.


Just in case you are wondering, I am mad about mango. Anything mango is good for me. Mango Cake, Mango icecream, mango juice and obviously the fruit itself.

I love sweet mango, not ones that have a tad of sour taste. Nothing at all, but sweetness all around. Just like my durians - prefer the sweet one with no bitter after taste.

I love the Indian ones, the Vietnamese one. I am so so with the Thai ones; I got no choice with my Chokanan - they are ok. I love the Harumanis. I love the thick mango juices that one gets in Mekah. The Indonesian version is not too bad too.. 

I am hantu Mempelam. Hahaha.

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