Oriental melons have a relatively short shelf life as they are harvested during the summer season and susceptible to cold-induced injuries. Typical chilling injury when stored at 4 °C is expressed as browning of the fruit suture. To prolong the shelf life and reduce browning of the fruit, the effects of modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), X-tend modified atmosphere (MA)/modified humidity (MH) bulk packaging (XF), and polyethylene (PE) packaging, on oriental melons were investigated during storage at 4 °C and 10 °C for 14 days and under retail display conditions at 20 °C. The O2 concentrations in PE packages stored at 4 °C and 10 °C ranged from 17.4 to 18.5%, whereas those in XF packages were reduced to 16.3-16.6%. The CO2 content of XF package (4.2-4.6%) was higher than that of PE package (1.4-1.9%) stored at 4 °C or 10 °C. Relative humidity (RH) saturated in the PE packages but not in the XF packages after seven days of storage. Furthermore, PE packages performed better at maintaining melon weight and firmness than XF packages during storage at 10 °C for 14 days and under retail display conditions at 20 °C. PE and XF packages effectively reduced the browning index of the peel and white linear sutures of oriental melons compared with the unpackaged control during cold storage at 4 °C, and this observation was maintained at the retail display condition at 20 °C. The enhanced CO2 levels, reduced O2 levels, and optimal RH values that were provided by the MAP, prevented the browning symptoms, and improved the marketability and shelf life of oriental melons.
Keywords: browning; modified atmosphere packaging; moisture loss; oriental melon; relative humidity.