Mixing fresh-cut baby green and red leaf lettuce from soilless cultivation preserves phytochemical content and safety
The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of different mixtures of two fresh-cut baby lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. var. crispa cv. Lollo Bionda [LB] and cv. Lollo Rossa [LR]) cultivars on lettuce phytochemical composition during postharvest. Lettuces were grown in a soilless culture system with continuous flotation (FL) in a greenhouse, mixed at harvest and packaged in polypropylene bags and stored at 4 °C for 9 days (d9). Mixes were made of 100, 75, 50, 25 and 0% of LB, respectively. The results showed that the phytochemicals were preserved during storage. In specific, 25LB had the highest pigment content on d1, while 50LB and 25LB had the highest inherent quality on d1.FL led to a reduced microbial contamination, thus, limiting its growth during storage. The results have revealed that high quality and microbiologically safe baby leaf vegetables (BLV), can be obtained by means of FL. The adopting a mix of lettuce cultivars could represent a positive postharvest practice to preserve the phytochemicals of BLV throughout their shelf life.