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- Author or Editor: Damián Martínez x
Spinach is not packed commercially in modified-atmosphere packaging due to difficulties in maintaining beneficial conditions during distribution, where temperature fluctuations can occur. However, low O2 and high CO2 atmospheres can be useful to retard yellowing and deterioration. In two experiments we studied developing and full-size leaves stored at 7.5 °C in air and controlled atmospheres of 0.5% O2 + 10%CO2 and 5%O2 + 10% or 20% CO2. Subjective quality evaluations (visual quality, decay, discoloration, off-odors, and yellowing) and objective evaluations (L*a*b* color values, chlorophyll, pH and titratable acidity, ammonia, and ethanol and acetaldehyde) were conducted every 3 days during 15 days. The developing leaves had higher visual quality and lower off-odor scores during storage than did the full-size leaves. In air storage, leaves were below the limit of salability by day 12. The atmospheres containing 10% CO2 were similarly effective in maintaining the visual quality and greenness of the leaves, and reduced off-odors in developing but not full-size leaves. The 20% CO2 atmosphere resulted in some leaf damage. Ammonia concentrations increased during storage, with lowest and highest concentrations in leaves stored in air and 20% CO2, respectively. Tissue pH only slightly increased from 6.5 in air-stored samples, but increased notably during storage in the controlled atmospheres. At 2.5 and 7.5 °C, a plastic film providing a 5% O2 and 6% CO2 atmosphere resulted in better quality spinach than that obtained with either a 10% O2 and 3% CO2 package atmosphere or the commercial perforated polybag.
In Sonora, Mexico, a new crop is emerging as a potential and alternative crop industry: the bacanora plant (Agave angustifolia Haw). The bacanora plant belongs to the Amaryllidaceous family and is a type of agave with a low water requirements, growing as a wild plant in Sonora, Mexico. It is different from the one used to produce the most famous Mexican liquor in the world—tequila. Some time ago, the bacanora plant had been used to distill and produce a kind of liquor known by Sonoran people as bacanora. However, this activity was prohibited by the Sonoran government during the past century. Now, in order to encourage job growth, the Sonoran government has given permission to producers for new bacanora plantations. To protect the originality of both bacanora plant production and the bacanora distillation industry, the Federal Mexican government issued a law that prohibits all activity for growing bacanora plant and bacanora distillation outside of Sonora, Mexico. The law was approved in 2005 and now, all natural areas where wild plants of bacanora grow are known as “origin denomination,” which means that some Sonoran areas are unique locations where the bacanora industry can be legally established for plant production, distillation, refining, and labeling. Currently, there are about 20,000 ha of bacanora plants located in Sonora. Some producers estimate that, in the near future, there will be more than 60,000 ha of bacanora plants. Although bacanora plants are used mainly for producing liquor, they could be considered ornamental plants for establishing home desert gardens together with desert plants, such as cacti.
The piquin chili (Capsicum annuum L.), a type of high-pungency small-ball chili fruit, is traditional among Sonoran people and is consumed as paprika and dry fruit in some regional dishes. Also, the high prices obtained in domestic and oversea markets every year, mainly through piquin dry fruit sales, have encouraged this small informal and seasonal industry. In some Sonoran Mountain ranges, where piquin chili plants grow wild, a latent, informal industry has been maintained by people who harvest piquin chilies as fresh and dry fruits for sale. Enough precipitation, good environment conservation, and other conditions maintain the natural preservation of this chili plant, so that the piquin chili industry is maintained without cultivation, and has become a natural and ecological chili industry. During harvest time (September through November), low-income people harvest by hand dry piquin chili fruits for sale in several cities in Sonora. After harvesting, fresh red piquin chili fruits must be dried over several days. The fruit is spread out over a fabric during sunny days and removed at nights, and the small piquin red fruits dry in just a few days. Usually dry piquin chili presentations are sold in liter (0.25-lb) or kilogram (2-lb) lots. Throughout the 2005 dry piquin chili harvesting season, sales reached prices close to $18 and $82 (U.S. dollars) per liter or kilogram, respectively. Although the dry piquin chili is exported to the United States, fresh fruit sales are still limited to the domestic Sonoran market. The piquin chili harvesting season offers temporary employment and represents, in part, an important source of family income.
The pod cactus (Opuntia sp.), a tender stem, has been consumed by Mexican people for centuries either as a fresh or boiled vegetable. Traditionally, Southern Mexico people consume this tender pod cactus in several traditional Mexican dishes. During recent years, an increase in nopalitos consumption by Sonoran people has been observed. People interested in a disciplined diet or people troubled with high cholesterol desire this peculiar vegetable. In Hermosillo, Mexico, people buy nopalitos in small plastic bags packages a pound of small cutting of tender pods from local supermarkets and mobile sellers. Usually, a nopalitos bag pound price is a range of $1.00 to $1.2 U.S. dollars in Hermosillo. Nopalitos production in Sonora, Mexico, is a seasonal. Nopalitos harvesting starts in early April and runs through late October. Because low temperatures start in late October, and continue during the winter season, there is no nopalitos production in Sonora. Hense, Sonoran producers are considerig building high tunnels, to provide more temperature control and to produce nopalitos during the winter. Most growers are low-income people that produce nopalitos in home gardens. This activity allows low-income growers to have nopalitos during most of the year, except during the winter. The current growing area production of 240 acres (170 ha) of tender pod cactus was recorded during 2005 in Sonora, of which a half is cultivated in home gardens. A potential yield production of nopalitos in Sonora is about of 40 tons per acre of tender pod cactus. In comparison to other crops, nopalitos production is a good alternative for small growers.
Zapote mamey fruit (Pouteria sapota) has a great potential for exportation, due to its organoleptic characteristics, however, very little is known about harvest technologies to increase its shelf life. So in this research, zapote mamey fruit from two harvest dates in the same year, were stored at 12 °C [95% relative humidity (RH)] for 14, 21, and 28 days under controlled atmospheres (10% or 5% CO2 + 5% O2 with balance of nitrogen), in addition, two groups of fruit were stored at the same temperature and time intervals, but with no controlled atmosphere (CA). Variables considered were: CO2 and ethylene production inmediately after transfer to ambient conditions (29 °C ± 2 °C; 85% RH). Control fruit from both harvest dates had a typical climacteric behaviour, ripening 2 to 3 days after transfer to ambient temperature. Fruit from the first harvest date, stored for 14 and 21 days under CA had a ripening process similar to the control, however fruit stored for 28 days fail to ripen even after 6 days at ambient temperature. Fruit from the second harvest date did not show this ripening problem.
Zapote mamey is a climacteric fruit that shows an increase in the content of carotenoids and total soluble sugars and in the activity of different enzymes during maturation. In the present study, zapote mamey fruits were harvested at physiological maturity and stored for 7, 14, and 21 days at 5, 10, and 15 °C, 85% relative humidity (RH). At the same time, immediately after harvest a group of fruits (control) was kept and evaluated at ambient temperature (20 °C, 50% to 60% RH). The objective was to determine the effects of temperature and storage time on content of carotenoids, and total soluble sugars, as well as to evaluate the enzymatic activity of peroxidase (POD), catalase (CAT), and superoxide dismutase (SOD). Fruits stored at 5 °C for 14 and 21 days developed chilling injury, as shown by a negative effect on carotenoids and total soluble sugars content. The activities of POD, CAT and SOD were also reduced after storage at 5 °C for 21 days. Fruits stored at 10 and 15 °C for 7, 14, and 21 days showed similar characteristics to the control fruits in carotenoids and total soluble sugars. Enzymatic activities were affected only by storage at 10 °C for 21 days. Storage at 15 °C for 21 days delayed, but did not stop maturation. Results suggest that zapote mamey fruits can be stored at 10 °C with no negative effect on quality.