The effectiveness of chitosan fruit coating to delay the qualitative and nutraceutical traits of three strawberry cultivars, namely "Candonga", "Jonica" and "Sabrina", as well as the effects of chitosan on antioxidant enzymes were evaluated. The fruits were coated with 1% and 2% chitosan solution and stored at 2 °C for nine days. Samples were taken every three days. Physico-chemical (weight loss, soluble solid content and titratable acidity) and nutraceutical (total polyphenol, anthocyanin, flavonoid, ascorbic acid content and antioxidant capacity) properties along with the enzymatic activity (catalase (CAT), ascorbate peroxidase (APX), polyphenol oxidase (PPO), guaiacol peroxidase (GPX) and lipoxygenase (LOX)) were evaluated. Chitosan treatment significantly reduced water loss and delayed the qualitative changes in color, titratable acidity and ascorbic acid content in dose- and cultivar-dependent manners. Additionally, changes in the total polyphenol, anthocyanin and flavonoid contents and the antioxidant capacity of chitosan-coated strawberry fruits were delayed. Chitosan coating enhanced the activity of some antioxidant enzymes, preventing flesh browning and reducing membrane damage. A global view of the responses of the three strawberry cultivars to chitosan coating and storage temperature was obtained using principal component analysis. Chitosan-coated fruit exhibited a slower rate of deterioration, compared to uncoated fruit in all tested cultivars.
Keywords: antioxidant enzyme; bioactive compounds; chitosan; cold storage; principal component analysis; strawberry.