Capotorto Imperatrice (Department of Science of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Foggia , Italy), Maria Luisa Amodio (Department of Science of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Foggia , Italy), Giancarlo Colelli (Department of Science of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Foggia , Italy)
The maturity stage is a critical factor for the final quality of a fresh-cut product. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of different harvest time (HT) on post-cutting quality of fresh-cut fennels. Fennels cv. Tiziano were harvested from HT-1 (immature stage) to HT-7 (overmature stage), with HT-3 as a commercial maturity stage. After harvest, fennels were trimmed and cut into slices. For every HT, three replicates of 10 slices, were analyzed for visual quality (score), colour (L*, a*, b*), pH, total soluble solids, titratable acidity, total phenols, antioxidant activity and vitamin C contents. In addition, other 10 splices for each replicate were stored for 4 days at 5 degrees C in air and evaluated sensorially for visual quality and colour of the cut surface. Harvest time did not significantly affect the visual quality and color parameters of fresh-cut fennel while differences were found in total soluble solids that were significantly lower at HT-1 and increased until the end of harvesting. Total phenols and vitamin C contents showed similar trends, with lower values at HT-1 respect to HTs 2, 3 and 4, and then starting to decrease after HT-5. Fresh-cut fennel stored in air at 5 degrees C turned brown with no significant differences in visual quality and color parameters between HTs. In conclusion harvesting fennel during the full maturity stage keep higher values of phenols and vitamin C with a good sugar content; harvest date did not influence the browning of the cut surface during storage at 5 degrees C.