Quality evaluation of local apple varieties: physicochemical and antioxidant proprieties at harvest and after cold storage
A wide apple germplasm is present in Italy in which numerous local genotypes of specific cultivation environment have to be still evaluated for fruit quality attributes. This is the case of a long-established fruit area located in central Italy (Tuscany) where several ancient apple varieties survive with the perspective to be re-introduced for their excellent quality. The objective of this work was to determine over a 2-year period the physicochemical traits, total antioxidant capacity (TAC), and polyphenols (TP) content of three old local apple varieties: ‘Paganina’, ‘Paradisa’ and ‘Rosa’. These characteristics were also assessed after 90 and 150 days at 4 °C cold storage, in normal atmosphere refrigerated cellars. For comparison purpose, the commercial apple cultivar ‘Fuji’ was considered. In general, the old varieties showed valuable quality properties, particularly due to a greater antioxidant power of fruits, although a variability between the two crop seasons, characterized by different weather conditions, was observed. After a dry summer, ‘Rosa’ showed very high TAC and TP values (2-fold higher than other varieties) that, after longperiods of cold storage, markedly decreased. These losses were not so noticeable in the others, suggesting a tendency to maintain a major stability during storage. These findings could meet the preference of demanding consumers for healthier foods who appreciate fresh fruits with protective properties by free radicals scavenging activity. Moreover, farmers who are focused on nearby and niche markets could have interesting in these local varieties to promote their valorization.