443 Postharvest Physiology and Quality Maintenance of Fresh-cut Pears

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  • 1 Dept. of Pomology, Univ. of California, Davis, CA 95616

The optimal `Bartlett' pear ripeness stage for fresh-cut processing based on flesh firmness ranges between 44.5 and 58 N (10 and 13 lbf). Use of softer pears reduces postcutting life due to flesh browning. Firmer pears may have longer postcutting life but lack good flavor. Dipping pear slices in a mixture of 2% (w/v) ascorbic acid + 1% (w/v) calcium lactate + 0.5 (w/v) cysteine (pH 7) for 5 min at 20 °C extended their shelf-life by inhibiting flesh softening and surface browning during storage at 0 °C for 10 days. After 3 days at 0 °C, ascorbic acid and cysteine residues dropped below detectable levels, while calcium content was double that of untreated slices. Preliminary sensory evaluation indicate no negative impact on flavor from this dip treatment. Exposure of intact pears to heat (35 or 40 °C) or controlled atmospheres (0.25 kPa O2 and/or 40 kPa CO2) for 24 or 48 h did not influence postcutting cut surface browning of pear slices. Storage of `Bartlett' pears at -1 °C in 2 kPa O2 (balance N2) resulted in longer postcutting life of the slices as compared to those made from air-stored pears at -1 °C. The longer the storage duration of whole pears, the shorter the shelf-life of their slices was. Fruit size did not affect the postcutting life of the pear slices, provided that they were treated with the ascorbic acid + calcium lactate + cysteine mixture. Untreated slices made from small pears exhibited surface browning faster than those made from large pears.

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