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Can hot water treatments enhance or maintain postharvest quality of spinach leaves?

Glowacz, Marcin, Mogren, Lars M., Reade, John P.H., Cobb, Andrew H., Monaghan, James M.
Postharvest biology and technology 2013 v.81 pp. 23-28
ascorbic acid, atmosphere, chlorophyll, dehydroascorbic acid, heat stress, hot water treatment, leaves, senescence, spinach, storage quality, water temperature
It has been reported that a short duration hot water treatment, applied as a heat shock, improves subsequent postharvest quality in bagged spinach and rocket leaves. This study has established that the maximum hot water temperature and duration before spinach leaves showed damage, was 45°C for 60s. Subsequent detailed studies compared postharvest quality of leaves treated at 45°C for 60s immediately after harvest with untreated leaves after 5 and 10 days of storage at 4°C. Heated leaves were significantly lighter and more yellow suggesting enhanced senescence, but leaf membrane integrity and associated gas composition of the storage atmosphere were not significantly different. Hot water treatment at 45°C for 60s applied immediately after harvest had a mixed effect on the biochemical constituents of the leaves; total carotenoid concentration was maintained compared to untreated leaves but the contents of ascorbic acid, dehydroascorbic acid, chlorophyll a and b were not affected. These observations suggest that in contrast to other reports, hot water treatments have limited commercial potential for postharvest quality improvement of spinach leaves.