Early maturation of figs with olive oil: Involvement of the ethylene signaling pathway
Fig, the fleshy fruit of the fig tree, consumed in fresh form and especially dried, is an important source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, organic acids, fibers and polyphenols. The fig and the leaves of the fig tree have numerous pharmacological properties and are thus used in traditional medicine to treat various conditions. For instance, because of its high fiber content, the fig is an excellent remedy for constipation. To speed up maturation of the figs and to increase the yield in a uniform way, one practices the technique of maturation by olive oil. This consists of basting the ostiole of the fig with a small drop of oil, a process termed as oleification. The maturation of the treated figs is obtained after 5 to 8 days. The mechanism of maturation of figs induced by olive oil is not fully elucidated. However, this treatment of figs increases the respiration rate and induces ethylene synthesis, thus shortening their maturation time. This oil-induced ethylene biosynthesis has only been observed in figs. The organoleptic characteristics of the figs matured by the oil are comparable to those of naturally ripened fruits. Indeed, the size and color of figs are similar and the content in reducing sugars and malic acid in figs are also comparable. Nevertheless, a slight increase in potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen contents has been observed in the figs matured by the oil. Anyway, further researches on the nutritional composition of figs matured by olive oil are necessary to reassure the consumer on their absence of harmfulness.
Keywords: Maturation (ripening) fig, oleification, olive oil, ethylene, organoleptic characteristics, biochemical composition