BACKGROUND: Consumer demand for organic foods is increasing despite a lack of conclusive evidence of nutritional superiority of organically grown produce. The objective of this investigation was to evaluate the effects of thermal treatments on phytochemicals in conventionally and organically grown berries. Two cultivars of conventionally and organically grown red raspberries and blueberries were analysed for total anthocyanins, total and specific phenolic compounds and total antioxidant activity. Fresh berries were thermally processed into cans and juice/puree with and without blanching, and the changes in phytochemicals were monitored.
RESULTS: Total anthocyanin and phenolic contents of berries were not influenced by the agricultural production system. Total antioxidant activity of berries was also not influenced by the production system, but antioxidant activity varied significantly between cultivars. After canning, total anthocyanins decreased by up to 44%, while phenolic contents and antioxidant activity of both berries generally increased by up to 50 and 53% respectively. The level of changes in phytochemicals during berry puree/juice processing was influenced by blanching and type of berries.
CONCLUSION: Phenolic contents and antioxidant activities of berries increased while total anthocyanins decreased during canning. Blanching prior to puree/juice processing improved the retention of phytochemicals in blueberries. Copyright © 2010 Society of Chemical Industry