Pawpaw [Asimina triloba (L.) Dunal] has significant potential as a new fruit crop. During ripening, loss of firmness is extremely rapid, and this trait may be the biggest obstacle to the development of a broader market. Cold storage of pawpaw fruit seems limited to 4 weeks at 4 °C, though fruit softening merely slows during storage. A study of several cultivars with commercial appeal has shown that none have superior cold storage life. Extending the cold storage beyond 4 weeks resulted in increasing loss of fruit firmness, poor poststorage ripening, and development of quality traits, and many fruit exhibiting flesh and peel discoloration. Cold storage duration affected fruit volatile production. By 4 weeks of cold storage, ethyl hexanoate and ethyl octanoate were the major volatiles produced, replacing methyl hexanoate, which was the major volatile produced by ripe fruit after harvest. By 8 weeks of cold storage, volatile ester production was generally low and ethyl hexanoate became the only major volatile. This loss of volatile production was accompanied by a decrease in alcohol acetyl transferase activity. Also, during cold storage, there was an increase in total phenolic content, lipid peroxidation products, and polyphenol oxidase activity. These changes may contribute to the black discoloration that developed in fruit cold-stored for 8 weeks or more. It is apparent that cold storage alone may not be sufficient to extend the storage life of most, if not all, current pawpaw cultivars beyond 4 weeks.
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