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What is your educational background?
Akansha has done BSc (H) , Food Technology from Shaheed Rajguru College of Applied Sciences for Women.
What do you do?
For her innovative product project in the third year of her programme, Akanksha created an apple aloe vera jam with the head of the department as he mentor. Students have the choice to create a new product or modify the nutritional content of an existing one. Akanksha chose to do the latter. “Aloe vera has medicinal properties. But it is not used in food items because of its bitter taste. If we could value-add to apple jam that is already available in the market, it can then be consumed by children and old people,” she shares.
What kind of research do you do to make sure its safe?
To ascertain whether aloe vera extracts could be used in food items, Akanksha contacted Reliance Life Sciences in Mumbai. Their inputs were critical to the success of the project; plant extract could indeed be used in food products. But they also guided her on what concentration of the extract in powder form could be used in jam so that the sweet taste is not compromised. After experimenting for a good six months on consistency and taste, the product was kept for ‘shelf life study’. This helped in finding out, for how long the product could stay without getting spoilt in room temperature.
Every 15 days, the jam would be inspected by the faculty members on parameters such as taste, aroma, colour, how easily it spreads on bread, etc. “We didn’t have to spend anything on the ingredients; we placed the order with the college and they procured it for us,” she says. Even her family gave her feedback in the initial days of experiments! This feedback was valuable considering it came from lay people.