BELTSVILLE, MDPackaged fresh-cut grapes are becoming increasingly popular with consumers who like the convenience and health benefits of these ready-to-eat fruits. To keep table grapes fresh and increase shelf life, scientists are seeking advanced techniques that provide healthy, safe alternatives to conventional packing methods. Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) have developed and tested an effective new technique that combines hot water treatment, rachis removal, and modified atmosphere packaging (MA) to extend the shelf life of table grapes.
Commercially packaged table grapes stored in clusters in perforated packaging have a short shelf lifetypically 8 to 10 weeksas a result of their exposure to the environment. Grape shelf life is often shortened by factors including fruit weight loss, stem browning, softening, shattering, and decay. Because of its effectiveness in delaying stem browning and decay, sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) is currently the treatment of choice in many countries for prolonging shelf life of grapes. There are disadvantages to sulfur dioxide use, however. The concentration of SO2 necessary to inhibit fungal growth may induce injuries in grape fruits and stems, and sulfite residues pose a health risk for some individuals. Applications of SO2 have been restricted in many countries, making it essential to identify safe, alternative technologies that effectively control fungal growth and assure high-quality fruit.
Yaguang Luo and William Conway from the USDS ARS, in collaboration with Liping Kou, Wu Ding, and Xinghua Liu from China's Northwest A&F University, recently published a report in HortScience that explored alternatives to sulfur dioxide for maintaining quality of table grapes, including various combinations of rachis removal, chlorinated wash, hot water treatment, and modified atmosphere packaging.
Grapes were prepared by cutting off the rachis 1 t
|Contact: Michael W. Neff|
American Society for Horticultural Science