"Baby spinach will be fresher and longer-lasting"

A Tasmanian research project is working on increasing the shelf life of baby spinach and other baby salad leaves, so it keeps fresh in your fridge for longer.

The research is being done by PhD candidate Vongai Dakwa with research partner Houston’s Farm, a Tasmanian grower and processor of baby leafy salad vegetables.

“Baby leafy salad vegetables have a high respiration rate and short shelf life of about 12 days and I’m working with Houston’s Farm to increase this and meet consumer demand, while retaining quality and food safety,” Ms Dakwa said.

“We also want to reduce product wastage, as losses can occur along the supply chain and during retail storage for various reasons, including temperature control,” she said.

Ms Dakwa has been conducting a range of laboratory experiments in consultation with Houston's Farm to examine factors that can be controlled by the vegetable industry to increase shelf life.

“I have been investigating the influence of storage temperature and bruising on shelf life. Baby leaves are tender and can be bruised during mechanical processes, such as harvesting and processing,” Ms Dakwa said.

“Shelf life can be increased if cotyledons – the first leaves to appear from a germinating seed – are not included within the packed baby spinach.

“I have also found a technique to remove grit more effectively during the washing stage that doesn’t compromise product quality or shelf life,” she said.

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