Formulating a Natural Colorant Containing Wax for a One-step Color-add Application for Fresh Citrus

in HortScience

In Florida, early season citrus fruits usually reach full maturity in terms of internal quality while their peel often does not turn to orange color after degreening due to insufficient buildup of carotenoids. For huanglongbing (HLB)-affected orange trees, the fruit may never turn orange during the entire harvest season, despite any cold weather. Improvement of early season citrus peel color is important to the citrus industry to better meet consumer expectations. Occasionally, packinghouses apply a dye, Citrus Red No. 2 (CR2), to improve the surface color of oranges, temples, and tangelos before applying a fruit wax to impart shine, retain moisture, and slow fruit senescence. In a previous report, we determined that paprika and annatto extracts are comparable to CR2 as natural colorant alternatives. In this research, the goal was to formulate a natural colorant [annatto, paprika, or paprika oleoresin (PO)]-containing carnauba wax coating. The coatings were first evaluated for color, shine, moisture retention, respiration rate, ethylene production, and internal gas content. Control fruit were coated with carnauba wax alone, or dyed with CR2 then coated with carnauba wax. The effects were assessed under different temperature and light exposure conditions to simulate commercial storage and marketing. The results showed that a one-step application of paprika-containing carnauba wax was comparable to the two-step (“CR2 then wax”) applications in improving fruit appearance and modification of internal gas composition.

Contributor Notes

Mention of a trademark or proprietary product is for identification only and does not imply a guarantee or warranty of the product by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status.

Corresponding author. E-mail: jinhe.bai@ars.usda.gov.

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    Absorption spectra of CR2, annatto, and paprika/paprika oleoresin solutions in acetone (CR2 = Citrus Red No. 2).

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    Changes of color (L*, a*, b*, and a*:b* ratio) and gloss values of five treatments on test papers over 7 d of exposure at 23 °C under 300 lux of standard fluorescent white light. Each data point represents the mean of 10 samples with the sd bar (CR2 = Citrus Red No. 2; A = annatto; P = paprika; PO = paprika oleoresin).

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    Appearance of fruits (Citrus sinensis var. Hamlin) with different colorant treatments in the beginning and after storage at 20 °C for 7 d, or at 10 °C for 14 d under 300 lux of standard fluorescent white light exposure (CR2 = Citrus Red No. 2; PO = paprika oleoresin).

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