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Want your fresh herbs to last longer? In a recently published paper, TIA’s Dr Matt Wilson has shown the potential of Electrolysed oxidising water (EOW) and CO2 shock treatments to help extent the shelf-life of Australia’s most popular herbs.

Fresh herbs are in high demand, especially coriander, parsley, mint and basil which account for 80% of the $155 million Australian fresh herb industry.

Current shelf life can range from five days to three weeks depending on the packaging and storage conditions.

In his study, Dr Wilson collected local fresh herbs and treated them using EOW, an organic certified sanitiser, and CO2 shock.

The samples were compared across a 2-week period with results showing that EOW was very effective in minimising microbial growth and therefore extending shelf-life.

CO2 shock, which involves exposing produce to high levels of CO2 for short periods, minimised microbial growth while still maintaining the quality of most herbs. In some cases, CO2 shock damaged plant material so could only be used on heartier herb varieties.

“Herbs are notoriously fragile, with a very limited shelf-life,” Dr Wilson said.

“These findings could be used by industry to help keep their herbs fresher for longer.”

Improved shelf-life could help industry meet the growing year-round demand for fresh herbs and reduce fresh food waste in Australia.

Dr Wilson is a Lecturer in Food Science and Technology at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture. This study was supported by the ARC Training Centre for Innovative Horticultural Products with the paper published by Acta Horticulturae®.  

Acknowledgement of Centre partners and collaborators

The ARC Training Centre for Innovative Horticultural Products is supported through funding from the Australian Government’s Industrial Transformation Research ProgramWoolworths and in-kind support from the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture.

The Centre involves researchers and collaborators from the University of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Institute of AgricultureWoolworthsMacquarie UniversityWageningen University, Houston’s FarmHansen OrchardsPerfection FreshZerella FreshPact GroupDaly Gourmet Potatoes, the Northern Territory Government’s Department of Primary Industry and ResourcesCSIRO’s Animal, Health and Food Sciences Division and Costa.