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Loss of ascorbic acid during storage of Conference pears in relation to the appearance of brown heart

Zerbini, Paola Eccher, Rizzolo, Anna, Brambilla, Ada, Cambiaghi, Paola, Grassi, Maurizio
Journal of the science of food and agriculture 2002 v.82 no.9 pp. 1007-1013
antioxidants, ascorbic acid, carbon dioxide, controlled atmosphere storage, dehydroascorbic acid, fruits, harvest date, models, oxygen, pears, storage time
To investigate the causes of brown heart (BH) in Conference pears, the contents of ascorbic acid (AA) and dehydroascorbic acid (DHAA) in fruits were studied during the first period of storage. AA was studied in 1999 and 2000, DHAA in 1999 only. Pears from normal and very late harvest stored immediately or after a delay in a controlled atmosphere with 2% O2 and low (0.7%) or high (5%) CO2 were compared. DHAA content did not change during storage in any treatment. AA decreased in storage according to an exponential model. The rate of AA loss was different in the two years and was higher in late-harvest fruits and in those stored in 5% CO2. BH appeared in different treatments when AA decreased below a threshold, which was about 2 mg kg−1 fresh weight, corresponding to 5% of the AA content at harvest. The frequency and severity of symptoms depended linearly on the time spent by fruits in low-ascorbate conditions. Advanced maturity at harvest and storage in high CO2 determine the appearance of BH and increase the rate of AA loss, probably through a reduction in the turnover of antioxidants.