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The quality of baby spinach as affected by developmental stage as well as postharvest storage conditions

Mudau, Ambani R., Araya, Hintsa T., Mudau, Fhatuwani N.
Acta agriculturæ Scandinavica 2019 v.69 no.1 pp. 26-35
antioxidant activity, flavonoids, functional foods, harvest date, iron, leaves, magnesium, mineral content, odors, postharvest storage, shelf life, sowing, spinach, storage temperature, storage time, zinc
Baby spinach is rich in phytochemicals that provide great benefits to consumers’ health. The study aim was to investigate the effect of the growth harvest stage, postharvest storage duration and temperature on quality of baby spinach leaves. A 3 × 5 × 3 factorial experiment was laid out in a randomised complete block design with four replicates per treatment. The treatments were arranged as follows namely: stage I [28 days after sowing (DAS)], stage II (35 DAS)and stage III (42 DAS), and leaves were kept up to 12 d at three different temperatures – 4, 10 and 20°C. The study demonstrated that the overall appearance and odour were both well maintained in the leaves of baby spinach harvested at stage II. The baby spinach harvested 28 DAS led to higher content of iron [1.13 mg g⁻¹ dry weight (DW)], magnesium (14.4 mg g⁻¹ DW), and zinc (0.17 mg g⁻¹ DW). The highest level of total antioxidant activity (0.43 mg g⁻¹ DW) and flavonoids (12 mg g⁻¹ DW) after 12 d of storage was observed in baby spinach leaves at stage I when stored at 4°C. Therefore, baby spinach leaves harvested 28 DAS and store at 4°C for 6 d improved shelf life and nutraceutical quality. Thus, early harvest of fresh produced baby spinach harvested in order to attain high phytochemical and mineral content when stored at low temperature (4°C) without exceeding 6 days is recommended.