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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1141: III International Conference on Fresh-Cut Produce: Maintaining Quality and Safety

Fresh-cut kale quality and shelf-life in relation to leaf maturity and storage temperature

Authors:   K. Albornoz, M.I. Cantwell
Keywords:   visual appearance, senescence indicators, ammonia, malondialdehyde
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1141.11
Kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala) is a very nutritious leafy vegetable and its consumption in fresh-cut salads has increased in recent years. Kale leaves may be harvested at different stages of maturity, resulting in a heterogeneity that may be detrimental to fresh-cut salad quality and shelf-life. Changes in composition and visual parameters were investigated in fresh-cut kale leaves ('Lacinato') harvested at three maturity stages used commercially based on leaf position and size (immature, mature, overmature), two temperatures (0 and 5C) and five periods of storage (0, 14, 21, and 28ádays; up to 42 days at 0C). Product was cut manually into 2 cm strips, washed in chlorinated water, manually centrifuged, and packaged in unsealed LDPE bags. Total chlorophyll content decreased during storage, with the lowest concentrations found in pieces from overmature leaves at 5C, while the total carotenoid content did not vary among the conditions studied. Ammonia content, an indicator of protein breakdown and senescence, remained low for pieces from all maturity stages stored at 0C up to 42 days, was intermediate in immature cut leaves at 5C, and increased dramatically in pieces from mature and overmature leaves at 5C between 21 and 28 days. Objective color values as well as marketability indicators (off-odors, overall visual quality, yellowing, decay, cut-end browning) exhibited significant differences in response to the postharvest conditions studied. In general, the loss of composition and visual quality of fresh-cut kale leaves increased with increasing temperature, days of storage, and leaf maturity.

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