Use of Cymbopogon citratus essential oils for preservation of Fragaria ananassa after conventional harvesting

Thiécla Katiane Rosales Silva, Débora Hitz, Aline José Maia, Daiana Novello, Kélin Schwarz, Virlene do Amaral Jardinetti

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Introduction: Fragaria ananassa (strawberry) requires the use of preservation methods after being harvested. Application of essential oils from Cymbopogon citratus (DC) Staf (lemon grass) is an alternative for chemical treatment of the fruit.
Objectives: Evaluate the preservation of strawberries cv. Albion obtained from organic harvesting and conventional agriculture after being soaked in C. citratus oil to compare the physicochemical and organoleptic characteristics of the fruit.
Methods: The strawberries were soaked in a lemon grass essential oil solution (0.001%) for one minute and were kept in a cold environment (4ºC) for 24 hours. The variables analyzed were total soluble solids, pH, titratable acidity, maturation index, weight loss, total phenolic compounds, anthocyanins and organoleptic analysis. The experiment was based on randomized block design and a factorial scheme of 2 x 2, 3 replications.
Results: Determination was made of greatest acidity (0.45% citric acid) and smallest weight loss, maturation index (16.39), and the content of phenolic compounds (gallic acid 165.06 mg/100 g-1) and anthocyanins (100 g/61.93 mg-1) in the conventional fruits soaked in the lemon grass essential oil solution.
Conclusions: Application of lemon grass essential oil was effective to maintain the quality of the fruit after being harvested. Additionally, conventional strawberries were found to have better physicochemical quality than organic strawberries.

Key words: Fragaria ananassa Duch, storage, essential oils, phenolic compounds