Departamento de Horticultura, Facultad de Agronomía de la Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Watercress is a leafy vegetable of the family Brassicaceae that grows in and around water, it has a short shelf life (approximately seven days) and it is consumed raw or steamed. The objective of this work was to study the effect of packaging film and different storage temperature on the postharvest quality of watercress minimally processed. Treatments were: packed with plain film (PD961EZ, 31mm thickness), non perforated and perforated (perforated area percentage 0.3%, hole diameter 1.1mm) and stored in refrigerated chambers at 1 ± 0.5 oC and 8 ± 2 oC (optimal storage temperature vs market temperature) for 10 days. Overall visual quality, gas concentration inside the packages, color Hunter lab parameters and weight loss were evaluated. Overall visual quality, gas concentration and weight loss were significantly affected by treatment, storage time and temperature. Color parameters did not show a clear tendency. In conclusion, non perforated PDZ 961 film was suitable for preserving watercress quality at the tested storage temperatures and in both temperatures, the overall visual quality was maintained above the limit values of commercial acceptability. The perforated film was no suitable for the packaging of watercress at any of the tested temperatures, mainly due to significant weight loss that reduce the overall visual quality of the product less than limit of acceptability by the consumers.