U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in Beltsville, Maryland, and Salinas, California have studied various peppers in an attempt to identify attributes which can prolong their shelf life after being cut.
The team looked at 50 varieties of sweet bell peppers, large elongated peppers, jalapeno, and Serrano to discover those that can stand up to prolonged cold storage. Fresh-cut sweet bell and elongated peppers exhibited signs of deterioration, such as fluid leakage, after 10 to 14 days of storage, whereas jalapeno and Serrano peppers didn’t lose fluids until 14 days of storage. Fluid leakage is undesirable as it causes peppers to lose firmness and marketability.
The team found that some varieties of each type showed exceptional fluid maintenance, meaning the fruit stayed firm and didn’t exhibit tissue breakdown. The researchers say that the results provide opportunities for plant breeders to incorporate attributes that contribute to fresh-cut quality into new varieties that will benefit the food industry and consumers.
Associated work is also studying lettuces, and scientists have found several genetic markers that will allow lettuce breeders to confer a longer shelf life to cut lettuce.
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