There is a lack of information on how to grow wild herbs as nutraceutical foods. Ten wild herbs were collected in natural and/or anthropized environments and assessed for their agronomic performance as fresh-cut (or ready-to-eat) leafy vegetables and their nutraceutical and organoleptic attributes. Seed dormancy prevented acceptable germination in many species. However, a physiological seed treatment (soaking with sodium hypochlorite followed by incubation for 3 mo at 4°C in sand moistened with potassium nitrate solution) allowed satisfactory germination, usually above 80%. Cultivation in alveolar containers produced highly diversified fresh-cut productivity (250-550 g·m-2), lower than that of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.; 16 >900 g·m-2) grown as a reference fresh cut green vegetable. Antioxidant power was often much 17 greater in wild herbs (20.0 to 62.0 mmol Fe2+·kg-1 FW) than in lettuce (21.0 mmol Fe2+·kg-1 18 FW). Evaluation of the sensory profile indicated that softness and sweet taste of lettuce were 19 generally preferred to the more robust flavors of wild herbs. Hardness and bitter taste produced a poor appreciation of most wild herbs. However, exceptions were evidenced due to characteristics of spiciness [Alliaria petiolata (M.Bieb) Cavara & Grande] and/or crunchiness (Silene vulgaris [Moench] Garcke). Frequent distrust for most herbs was expressed as an example of food neofobia that generally occurs for unknown bitter flavors. Most of the wild herbs were not suitable as fresh-cut leafy vegetables, but some species could be ingredients for mixed products with better flavor and health properties.

Agronomic, nutraceutical, and organoleptic performances of wild herbs of ethnobotanical tradition

BENVENUTI, STEFANO;MAGGINI, RITA;PARDOSSI, ALBERTO
2017-01-01

Abstract

There is a lack of information on how to grow wild herbs as nutraceutical foods. Ten wild herbs were collected in natural and/or anthropized environments and assessed for their agronomic performance as fresh-cut (or ready-to-eat) leafy vegetables and their nutraceutical and organoleptic attributes. Seed dormancy prevented acceptable germination in many species. However, a physiological seed treatment (soaking with sodium hypochlorite followed by incubation for 3 mo at 4°C in sand moistened with potassium nitrate solution) allowed satisfactory germination, usually above 80%. Cultivation in alveolar containers produced highly diversified fresh-cut productivity (250-550 g·m-2), lower than that of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.; 16 >900 g·m-2) grown as a reference fresh cut green vegetable. Antioxidant power was often much 17 greater in wild herbs (20.0 to 62.0 mmol Fe2+·kg-1 FW) than in lettuce (21.0 mmol Fe2+·kg-1 18 FW). Evaluation of the sensory profile indicated that softness and sweet taste of lettuce were 19 generally preferred to the more robust flavors of wild herbs. Hardness and bitter taste produced a poor appreciation of most wild herbs. However, exceptions were evidenced due to characteristics of spiciness [Alliaria petiolata (M.Bieb) Cavara & Grande] and/or crunchiness (Silene vulgaris [Moench] Garcke). Frequent distrust for most herbs was expressed as an example of food neofobia that generally occurs for unknown bitter flavors. Most of the wild herbs were not suitable as fresh-cut leafy vegetables, but some species could be ingredients for mixed products with better flavor and health properties.
Benvenuti, Stefano; Maggini, Rita; Pardossi, Alberto
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