(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) A study is being carried out by a Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) researcher to find out why the khalas date variety loses its light translucent brown colour quickly. Once this first grade date variety “ the best in the Gulf region - darkens in colour, its market value drops.
Ahmad Ali al Alawi, assistant professor, department of food science and nutrition in the College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences, SQU, and lead researcher said, ''Dates are the most important crop in Oman and the khalas variety is the tastiest among all varieties grown in the Gulf.
Khalas dates have a very good flavour with a butter-caramel taste. ''They are very fleshy and melt easily in your mouth. It is said that once you have tried this variety you may not try any other date.''
Alawi said fully ripe khalas dates are not golden yellow, but usually light brown in colour. ''They are grade one dates and you can even see the seed inside the fruit. The problem is that these dates quickly become dark brown. Once this happens, Omanis consider the dates old and want to buy them at a reduced price. There is change in taste as well. Moreover, the dark brown dates are mistaken for other varieties. Our study will find out that why the colour changes during storage and how this can be prevented to retain its market value.''
He said that the colour changes to dark brown because of chemical reactions that take place in the fruit during storage.
''One of the common reactions is enzymatic. The reasons may also include other possible reactions such as non-enzymatic browning. The study will analyse enzymes in the dates to determine their role in discolouration and study oxidation of minerals,'' Alawi said adding the project started three months ago and Oman will benefit a lot once we understand the cause of the probl