Potentiality of mint leaves as a ready-to-use product: postharvest evaluation

S. Nicola, G. Tibaldi, G. Pignata
The growing interest in wellbeing and in the healthy aspects of life has led to attention being focused on the importance of a daily intake of vegetables and fruit as well as the substitution of salt as a seasoning with herbs and spices. Lamiaceae species contain essential oils, which have a wide spectrum of biofunctional activities as well as antimicrobial and antioxidant characteristics. The presence of herbs in the fresh-cut sector could meet consumers' expectations for a ready-to-use product and prevent a reduction in quality due to the sensitivity of the phytochemicals to a harsh postharvest process. For these reasons, the objective of the research was to study the effects of storage on the decay in quality of some minimally processed mint species and to establish the influence of different packaging bags on their shelf-life. Samples of Mentha spicata L. var. rubra; M. spicata L. var. viridis LSQUOCasablancaRSQUO; M. × piperita L. and Calamintha nepeta (L.) Savi were packaged in three different polypropylene film bags differing with respect to the permeability to O2 (P1=560; P2=750; P3=1990 cm3 
m-2 d-1 bar-1) and were stored for an 8-day shelf-life at 4°C. Fresh weight loss (g) was measured daily during the shelf-life and the gas atmosphere (% O2; % CO2) inside the package was analyzed at the end of the shelf-life period. The packaging permeability to O2 significantly affected the fresh weight loss at the end of the shelf-life (P=0.021). The P1 packaging had the highest fresh weight loss (-2.06%), along with P3, but it statistically differed from P2. Fresh weight was not influenced by the species. The species and the packaging permeability to O2 did not affect the internal gas atmosphere at the end of the shelf-life. Considering the potential interest in mint by the fresh-cut sector, this study has confirmed how different packaging bags vs. different mint varieties are important to help maintain shelf-life and freshness.
Nicola, S., Tibaldi, G. and Pignata, G. (2018). Potentiality of mint leaves as a ready-to-use product: postharvest evaluation. Acta Hortic. 1209, 109-114
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1209.16
Lamiaceae, nutraceutical product, packaging, mint species, freshness, peppermint, spearmint

Acta Horticulturae