Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are highly appreciated fruits due to their unique taste and high content in antioxidant and bioactive compounds. They are rich in phenolic compounds, mostly flavonoids and anthocyanins, which are responsible for fruit color and can exert antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti‐inflammatory, anticancer, and cardioprotective effects. However, berries have a short storage life, as a result of their high respiration and softening rate, and susceptibility to mechanical damages and decay. As berries are considered non‐climacteric fruit, they must be harvested at, or near to full maturity, because they will not continue to ripen normally once detached. At this stage, the fruit presents appropriate organoleptic attributes but may become softer and more sensitive to mechanical damage. Thus, it is crucial to be extremely careful during harvest and postharvest handling and to sort, grade, and pack the berries in the field, avoiding excessive manipulation of the fruit. The most extended methods to maintain quality during the postharvest period are prompt precooling and storage at low temperatures. Modified and controlled atmospheres with up to 20‐kPa CO2 and 5–10‐kPa O2 reduce microbial growth and delay senescence but can affect bioactive compounds with a cultivar‐dependent response observed for these technologies.
Part of the book: Postharvest Handling