Cherimoya is a subtropical fruit characterized by a delicious, sweet flavor and beneficial health properties, which found suitable growing conditions in the South of Italy. However, the marketing of this product is halted by its high perishability, which limits the shelf-life of the fresh fruit to few days after harvest and does not allow for commercialization beyond local markets. Studies have shown that storage of this fruit in controlled atmosphere, using Modified Atmosphere Packaging technologies, extended the post-harvest life of Cherimoya, but little is still known about the evolution of its sensory, nutraceutical and microbiological characteristics during such storage period. In this paper, we studied the effect of a 4-days long active-MAP (30% CO2 – 10% O2 – 60% N2) storage period, associated with cold temperatures, on the physico-chemical, sensory, nutraceutical and microbiological quality traits of Italian-grown cherimoya fruits, compared with passive-MAP (Air composition, 21% O2 + 1% CO2 + 78% N2) and simple cold storage. Active-MAP proved effective in delaying the reaching of the optimal consumption point until 10 days from harvest, besides showing absence of microbial growth until after 7 days from harvest. Both active- and passive-MAP treatments maintained better nutraceutical values than control until the end of the trial period, and sensory analysis confirmed that active-MAP treated fruits were at the optimal commercial stage after 10 days from harvest.
Keywords: MAP, headspace gas composition, shelf-life, tropical fruit, Sicily