doi:10.1038/nindia.2015.43 Published online 7 April 2015
Researchers have discovered that a natural aromatic compound can protect post-harvest minimally processed cabbage against microbial decay and browning1. This compound helped preserve the freshness and texture of stored cabbage, making it a potentially effective way to increase the post-harvest shelf life of green leafy vegetables.
With the aim of reducing post-harvest loss of stored cabbage, the researchers cut cabbage into pieces and placed them in polystyrene trays containing filter paper soaked in allyl isothiocyanate. They then wrapped the trays with plastic film and stored the samples at 10 degrees Celsius for 12 days.
The scientists analysed the growth of bacteria, fungi, yeast and moulds and the extent of browning on stored cabbage samples and compared them with those of untreated cabbage samples.
They found that treatment with allyl isothiocyanate inhibited the growth of microbial flora in the processed cabbage. Cabbage samples treated with low doses (0.005 and 0.01 microlitre/millilitre) of allyl isothiocyanate retained good aromatic quality for up to 10 days.
In addition, the researchers found that allyl-isothiocyanate treatment inhibited browning by decreasing the activity of the enzyme phenylalanine ammonia lyase that facilitates browning. They say that application of volatile aromatic compounds can extend the post-harvest shelf life of freshly cut vegetables like cabbage.