Mediterranean fruits valorization through minimal processing and technologies aimed to prolong shelf life

Alessio Allegra [Department of Agricultural and Forest Sciences, Università di Palermo];
Maria Lucia De Chiara [Department of Science of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Università di Foggia]

In Italy, minimally processed fruit products market showed, during the last few years, positive trend that pushed more and more research and industry to invest in this field. The main aim was to optimize the physico-chemical technologies to prolong product shelf-life, with particular attention to niche fruit products of the Mediterranean region, improving their organoleptic and nutritional quality characteristics during storage and their microbiological safety. This review reports the results of the main existing studies to the best of our knowledge concerning the improvement of the shelf-life of kiwifruits, peaches and nectarines, mangoes and cactus pears, that could have a good market share in the Mediterranean area in the coming years. Fresh product must be attractive to the consumer, maintaining their appearance, firmness, flavor and aroma typical of the variety. Nevertheless, the must also be safe for fresh consumption. The industrial development of the last decades and the change in the consumers lifestyles and eating habits have led to the development of minimally processed fresh foods based on new varieties of ready-for-use fruit and vegetables, which keep intact all the characteristics of the fresh product ensuring nutritional and microbiological quality, added value and greater convenience of use for the consumer. However, fresh cut products deteriorate faster than whole fruits, mainly due to the damage caused by minimal processing that usually causes a series of typical symptoms, such as softening, browning of the cut surface, reduction in nutritional values, onset of off odor and bacterial proliferation.
The paper also describes several technologies to prolonging fruit shelf-life: storage in low temperature, 1-MCP application during pre- and postharvest period, calcium chloride dipping of fresh-cut products, modified atmosphere packaging, thermal treatments, edible coating, cultivar selection, then describing it in detail and specifically in reference to kiwifruits, peaches, nectarines, mangoes and cactus pears with the aim of offering a starting point to the industry and the research world for the development of new products with high added value

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