BACKGROUND: Demand for broccoli has increased due to its high content of bioactive compounds. However, broccoli is a perishable commodity with a short shelf life mainly due to dehydration, yellowing and losses of bioactive compounds. Thus, efficient treatments to preserve broccoli quality are needed.
RESULTS: The effect of heat treatment on senescence and antioxidant compounds evolution during storage at 20 °C was evaluated in organic and conventionally grown broccoli. Senescence evolved quickly as manifested by floral head yellowing, which was higher in conventional than in organic broccolis, but senescence was significantly delayed by heat treatment. All organic acids, including ascorbic acid, were found at higher concentrations in organic than in conventional broccoli at harvest but decreased during storage in all broccolis. Phenolic concentration and antioxidant activity (in both hydrophilic and lipophilic fractions) also decreased during storage, although these decreases were higher in conventional than in organic broccolis, and no differences were found attributable to heat treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: Heat treatment was effective in delaying broccoli senescence, manifested by chlorophyll retention. In addition, organic broccoli maintained higher concentrations of bioactive compounds (ascorbic acid and phenolics) and antioxidant potential during storage than conventional broccoli, with higher potential health beneficial effects. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry