1Department of Horticulture, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701; 2Institute of Food Science and Engineering University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701;3 Texas Agriculture and Extension Service, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843
Fresh-market spinach production has risen in the United States in the past few years as well as total value of the crop. Increased crop value may be attributed to more “value added” spinach products being produced and marketed. Public awareness of nutrition is rising due to more information being distributed concerning cancer prevention, antioxidants, and neutraceuticals. Spinach is high in the carotenoids beta-carotene and lutein, a known antioxidant for the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It is also high in vitamins A, C, E, and folate, fiber, and the mineral iron. In this respect, spinach producers have an advantage over growers of salad vegetables such as lettuce. While this is an advantage, more innovative “value added” methods of marketing this product to the consumer are needed. A dark-green, semi-savoy spinach type developed at the Univ. of Arkansas was studied to determine shelf-life and storage capabilities of root cut plants in transparent clamshell containers. Plants were held at temperatures ranging from 1 to 6 °C. Leaf turgidity and visual characteristics were rated on a 1 to 5 scale. Acceptable characteristics and shelf-life of spinach stored in clamshell containers were seen up to 14 to 21 days when plants were stored at or near 1 °C. These results indicate that spinach packaged in transparent clamshell containers will maintain an acceptable shelf-life and could be beneficial to fresh market spinach producers.