Muskmelon Fruit Quality in Response to Postharvest Essential Oil and Whey Protein Sprays

in HortScience

The consumption of fresh muskmelons (Cucumis melo reticulatus L.) has been linked to severe illness outbreaks due to contamination with bacterial pathogens. Antimicrobial essential oils (EOs) were incorporated into wash water sprays and evaluated as potential agents for postharvest disinfection of ‘Athena’ muskmelons. Freshly harvested fruits were sprayed with 0.5% EOs from cinnamon leaf, thyme, or clove bud emulsified in a whey protein emulsion (WP) as potential washing disinfectants, together with deionized water, water with 200 µL·L−1 free chlorine (pH 7, free turbidity), or oil-free WP as controls. Melons were treated, stored at 4 °C and then evaluated weekly for weight loss, rind color, mesocarp firmness and the compositional quality traits soluble solids content (SSC), pH, β-carotene content, and total ascorbic acid (AsA) for up to 21 days. Essential oil–treated melons were not different from controls in fruit quality and composition with the exception of fruits treated with thyme oil, which were statistically lower in SSC (0.8 °Brix) than those treated with water or cinnamon oil treatment. Internal carbon dioxide was statistically higher (≈0.1% higher in value, equal to a 25% increase) in muskmelons receiving whey protein–based treatments after storage for at least 7 days. Overall, our results suggest that EOs as disinfectants have little effect on quality or composition of muskmelon fruit.

Contributor Notes

We thank the USDA Organic Research and Extension Initiative for their grant support (USDA/NIFA/OREI UTENN2012-02247) and Mary Grace, North Carolina State University, and Qixin Zhong and Faith Critzer, University of Tennessee for their technical support of this project.

Mention of a trademark, proprietary product, or vendor does not constitute a guarantee or warranty of the product by North Carolina State University and does not imply its approval to the exclusion of other products or vendors that also may be suitable.

Corresponding author. E-mail: cjiang5@ncsu.edu.

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