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J Sci Food Agric. 2010 Apr 30;90(6):1089-97. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.3926.

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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Postharvest and Refrigeration Group, Department of Food Engineering, Technical University of Cartagena, P. Alfonso XIII 48, 30203 Cartagena, Murcia, Spain.



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.


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 degrees 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.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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