Influence of Degradative Enzymatic Activities on the Shelf Life of Ready-to-Eat Prickly Pear Fruits
Prickly pear fruit (Opuntia ficus indica L. Miller) belongs to the Cactaceae family. This species is very sensitive to low storage temperatures (< 5°C) which cause damages. The fruits can be peeled, suitably packaged and successfully commercialized as a ready-to-eat product. The main limit to the extension of the shelf life is the production of off-flavors due to different factors, the growth of microorganisms and the action of endogenous enzymes. Lipoxygenase (LOX) and Pectinesterase (PE) are involved in fruit degradation. In particular, LOX pathway is directly responsible for lipid oxidation, and the subsequent production of off-flavours, while PE causes the softening of fruit during maturation. They act on the texture and shelf-life of post-harvest, packaged fruits, as a function of the the grown of microorganisms and packaging technologies used. The aim of this work is to compare the effect of different packaging technologies on the shelf life extension of ready-to-eat prickly pear fruits with regards for the enzymes activities.
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