Introduction. Edible coatings are traditionally used to improve food appearance and preservation. They act as barriers during processing, handling and storage, and do not solely retard food deterioration, enhancing its quality, but are safe due to natural biocide activity, or to the incorporation of antimicrobial compounds. The aim of this work was to evaluate the effect of A. vera, applied as an edible coating, on the changes in physicochemical parameters related to tomato fruit quality during storage in ambient conditions (22 °C and 80% RH), as well as its role in controlling microbial spoilage. Materials and methods. The changes in physical, chemical and textural properties of commercial tomato cv. Charleston were evaluated during a storage period of 17 days in ambient conditions according to their coating (treatments), or not (control), with an aqueous extract of pure A. vera or diluted (2:1) in distilled water. Results. The pure aqueous extract of Aloe vera totally inhibited the growth of Rhizoctonia solani and Alternaria alternata, while it did not show antimicrobial activity against Phytophthora parasitica. The diluted aqueous extract of Aloe vera coating maintained the quality of the tomatoes during storage in ambient conditions, delaying ripening, although it did not constitute an effective barrier against weight loss. Conclusion. Our fundamental results may be useful to breeders and postharvest technologists, as well as distributors, importers and exporters, in handling and processing tomatoes.
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