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Quality of fresh‐cut baby spinach grown under a floating trays system as affected by nitrogen fertilisation and innovative packaging treatments

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BACKGROUND: Alternative techniques for cultivation of leafy vegetables such as a floating tray system and unconventional gas mixtures for post‐harvest active modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) could be of interest in the minimally processed vegetable industry.

RESULTS: The combined effect of three pre‐harvest fertilisation doses (8, 12 or 16 mmol N L−1) and three post‐harvest MAP conditions (passive, super‐atmospheric or N2O‐enriched) on the main quality attributes of fresh‐cut baby spinach leaves throughout 10 days at 5 °C was studied. After 8 days of shelf life, spinach leaves fertilised with 8 and 16 mmol N L−1 and stored under N2O‐enriched MAP showed the lowest microbial growth, with good sensory quality. Such combined treatments also preserved the total antioxidant capacity sampled at harvest (8 g ascorbic acid equivalent antioxidant capacity kg−1 f.w.). A decrease of 10–20% in total vitamin C content regardless of N fertilisation and packaging treatment was found during shelf life. Total phenolics content at harvest was 2 g gallic acid equivalents kg−1 f.w., which was slightly decreased or preserved during shelf life while total chlorophylls were preserved for all treatments assayed around 550 mg kg−1 f.w.

CONCLUSION: No clear effect of fertilisation doses was observed during post‐harvest storage on overall quality of fresh‐cut baby spinach leaves, while N2O‐enriched atmospheres seems to be a promising alternative to passive MAP for extending shelf life. Copyright © 2010 Society of Chemical Industry
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Keywords: Spinacia oleracea L; antioxidant capacity; enzymatic activity; high oxygen; microbial counts; minimal processing; nitrous oxide; polyphenols; vitamin C

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 30, 2010

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