Flowers Not Just for Mother’s Day: New Technique Helps Edible Flowers Last Longer

A new study in the May issue of the Journal of Food Science published by the Institute of Food Technologists reported that the use of a new storage technique could make it possible for edible flowers to maintain a higher quality for longer, which could reduce transportation costs.

May 14, 2012

CHICAGO- Many fine dining restaurants and catering establishments garnish dishes with flowers or use them as ingredients in salads, soups, entrees, desserts and drinks. A new study in the May issue of the Journal of Food Science published by the Institute of Food Technologists reported that the use of a new storage technique could make it possible for edible flowers to maintain a higher quality for longer, which could reduce transportation costs. 

Flowers have a large surface area to volume ratio and many delicately attached parts making them susceptible to petal loosening, discoloration and wilting. Compared with other kinds of flowers, edible flowers are even more vulnerable to postharvest quality loss than cut flowers, because their stems are cut very short and they are stored without additional water supply.

Currently, edible flowers are often packed in clamshell containers and must be used within two to five days of harvest, which requires air transportation to reach most regions before the end of their shelf life. The study compared a new controlled release technology along with modified atmosphere packaging to the packing technique that is currently being used.

The freshly harvested carnations and snapdragons that were packaged in trays with a 1-MCP strip (a synthetic plant growth regulator), sealed with a gas permeable film, and stored at five degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) had significantly reduced dehydration and maintained higher overall quality compared to flowers packaged commercially in plastic clamshell containers.

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About IFT
The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a nonprofit scientific society. Our individual members are professionals engaged in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government. IFT's mission is to advance the science of food, and our long-range vision is to ensure a safe and abundant food supply, contributing to healthier people everywhere.

For more than 70 years, the IFT has been unlocking the potential of the food science community by creating a dynamic global forum where members from more than 100 countries can share, learn, and grow. We champion the use of sound science across the food value chain through the exchange of knowledge, by providing education, and by furthering the advancement of the profession. IFT has offices in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit ift.org.

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