Fresh-cut chain for soilless grown 'Mara des Bois' strawberries: the cutting process reduces the shelf-life of the produce

S. Nicola, G. Pignata, G. Tibaldi
The strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Dutch.) crop is highly profitable and it can be marketed throughout the year thanks to the everbearing cultivars and as a result of the growing systems that are adopted. Soilless growing systems, using a sterile medium, can guarantee raw material that is suitable for the fresh-cut sector. Strawberries are a highly perishable product, due to their fast metabolism rate, and an appropriate process should be adopted to preserve their quality. Thus, the present research has been aimed at studying how the postharvest management (fresh product vs. fresh-cut product) and the packaging permeability to O2 (P1=560; P2=750, P3=1990 cm3 m-2 d-1 bar-1) can affect the physiology and fresh quality of 'Mara des Bois' strawberry grown in a soilless culture system and stored at 4°C. The effect of postharvest processes has been evaluated on the shelf-life of the product. The biometrical parameters were measured at harvest in order to characterize the cultivar. The total bacterial count (TBC), and the yeast and mold count (YMC) were also analyzed to test the effective safety of the growing system. The soilless growing system led to strawberries being produced with a low microbial contamination (TBC=3.89 Log10 CFU g-1; YMC=3.37 Log10 CFU g-1), which lasted 6 days as a packaged fresh product, and only 4 days when processed as fresh-cut fruit. The postharvest process did not affect the fruit fresh weight loss over time, while the packaging permeability to O2 affected the fruit fresh weight loss after 4 days of the shelf-life and after 6 days of the shelf-life, with the greatest loss being observed when P1 was used. The gas concentration (average O2=9.8%; average CO2=10.2%) was not affected by the treatments. The microbial contamination was still low on the 4th day (TBC=5.58 Log10 CFU g-1; YMC=5.14 Log10 CFU g-1).
Nicola, S., Pignata, G. and Tibaldi, G. (2018). Fresh-cut chain for soilless grown 'Mara des Bois' strawberries: the cutting process reduces the shelf-life of the produce. Acta Hortic. 1209, 129-134
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1209.19
Fragaria×ananassa Dutch., minimally processed food, microbial contamination, fresh weight loss, packaging permeability, gas analysis

Acta Horticulturae