Post Harvest Technology
Post harvest losses are very highin most of the horticulturalcommodities and it may be one of thehighest in mushrooms. Mushroomseven after harvesting continue to grow,respire, mature and senesce resultingin weight loss, veil-opening, browning,wilting and finally in spoilage. Almostall the mushrooms have very shortshelf-life but the paddy strawmushroom has the shortest (few hoursat the ambient) and Milky has verygood shelf-life (3-5 days) if microbialspoilage is taken care of. Mostdamaging post harvest changes inmushrooms vary with species—it isblackening in the button mushroom,cap-opening in the paddy strawmushroom and mucilage in the oystermushroom, which affect theirmarketability significantly. Weightloss is very serious problem in all themushrooms as these contain very highmoisture (85-90 %) and are notprotected by the conventional cuticle.
Two most common post harvestpractices and aspects of mushroomsare: proper packaging and storage forthe fresh mushrooms; and processingfor long-term storage as well as value-addition. Market for the freshcommodities is likely to continue;reverse trend has already started inthe countries where processedproducts were being consumed.Therefore most important of all, it isthe proper packaging and storage ofthe fresh mushrooms which shouldreceive the attention of all the playersin the field—researchers, growers andtraders. Besides canning, drying,steeping and pickling currentlyresorted to for the long-term storageand trade, it is the production andconsumption of the readymade orready-to-make value-added mushroomproducts which have, of late, beenreceiving the attention of themushroom research and industry