Lemongrass-Enhanced Coatings Keep Citrus Fresh and Healthy in the Cold

Mary Jones
29th January, 2024

Lemongrass-Enhanced Coatings Keep Citrus Fresh and Healthy in the Cold

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Picture this: it’s the peak season for Kinnow mandarins, a delightfully juicy citrus fruit that can perk up any dull day with its tangy sweetness. But, these succulent delights have a bit of a problem - they don’t stay fresh for long after harvest. It's a race against time from the moment they're plucked from the trees—before you know it, they start losing their pizzazz, the tantalizing tartness dwindles, and the sweet, citrusy joy they’re packed with begins to fade. But fear not, there’s some good news. Researchers are on the case, and they've been cooking up (not literally, mind you) some creative solutions to help preserve the zesty goodness of Kinnow mandarins. Their latest concoction? A protective coating made from xanthan gum (XG), a substance that might sound more at home in a sci-fi novel than in your fruit bowl. They've paired this with lemongrass essential oil (LG), which is as fresh and fragrant as it sounds. Now, before you start picturing your mandarins wrapped in a bubble gum balloon, let’s delve a bit into the magic behind the scenes. Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide – fancy talk for a type of sugar that’s used as a thickening agent and stabilizer in many food products. And when it comes to lemongrass, aside from making a mean cup of tea, it's got antifungal and antibacterial properties to boot. When the researchers slathered these Kinnow mandarins with a mix of XG and LG, they weren’t just giving them a spa treatment. It was all about keeping the fruit's natural tanginess (what they call titratable acidity or TA), the sugar sweet balance (soluble solid content or SSC), the pep-you-up vitamin C (ascorbic acid or AsA) levels, those beneficial flavonoids (total flavonoid content or TFC), and the all-important juice content stable, while also cutting down on the weight loss and keeping the spoilage monsters at bay. Imagine the gratifying sight of a Kinnow mandarin days, even weeks, after harvest - still boasting that just-picked lustre, teasing your taste buds with a promise of freshness. That's what the coated fruits did, practically winking at you with higher sensory quality—a true feast for the senses. Plus, these mandarins off the charts with their total antioxidant activity (TAA), throwing punches at those pesky free radicals that can mess with your health. Meanwhile, their enzymes – the internal machinery keeping everything running smoothly – like catalase (CAT), peroxidase (POD), and phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL) were buzzing with activity. Let’s take a closer look - literally. Through the lens of a scanning electron microscope, which could give CSI techs a run for their money, the skin of these coated mandarins showed just how seamless this protection was. The surfaces were smooth, the mandarin's natural pores closed up tighter than a sealed envelope. It's like a mandarin straight out of a beauty pageant, smooth, glowing, and primed for the limelight. Crunching the numbers, the clear winners were the fruits dressed up in a 1.0% XG and 1.0% LG ensemble. These citrus supermodels came with maximum TA, AsA, and TFC content. They lost minimal weight, and their spoilage numbers were so low they’re not even worth talking about. The sugar levels, too, were locked in at the sweet spot. Clearly, this xanthan gum and lemongrass essential oil duo is like the superhero team-up for Kinnow mandarins. It's not just about extending their shelf life; it's about preserving the qualities that make these mandarins so downright mouthwatering in the first place. So, what does this all mean for you, the admirer of fine citrus fruits? Simply put, such innovations could mean enjoying those vibrant, flavorful Kinnow mandarins for longer without compromising on their natural goodness. And while this research unfolded in the warm climate of Punjab, India, the ripples could be felt anywhere in the world where Kinnow’s are loved and devoured. Next time you’re savoring a slice of Kinnow mandarin, you might just be tasting the fruits of science—quite literally. This is a delightful reminder of how science and nature can come together in the most unexpected ways to make life just a bit zestier. Cheers to that!



Main Study

1) Xanthan gum coatings augmented with lemongrass oil preserve postharvest quality and antioxidant defence system of Kinnow fruit under low-temperature storage.

Published 26th January, 2024


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