Cannabidiol (CBD) has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. However, this cannabinoid has other uses beyond medicine: it may also act as a natural preservative in produce, such as in strawberries.
University of South Florida researchers carried out two experiments using CBD and strawberries.  For the first one, they bought strawberries from a local supermarket. The researchers also obtained a CBD mixture (from CBDistillery) that contained CBD isolate (33 mg/mL) mixed within medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil. The oil was gently “massaged” into the strawberries.
The strawberries were divided into three groups: those treated with the CBD oil, those treated sterile water, and those without any treatment. The strawberries were then allowed to sit in humidity- and temperature-controlled chambers. The temperature was set at 10º C and the humidity levels were fixed at 85% RH (relative humidity).
For the second experiment, freshly harvested Florida Radiance strawberries (a leading type of strawberry in the area) from two harvests were used. They were taken to the laboratory within an hour of harvest, and 180 uniformly presenting samples free from defects were selected and divided into three groups.
One group was not treated, one group was treated with MCT oil, and one group was treated with coconut oil and CBD isolate for the first harvest or MCT oil and CBD isolate (from Extract Labs) for the second harvest. Strawberries were lubricated with 0.5 mL of the CBD oil. MCT was used for the second harvest because coconut oil left a waxy film on the strawberries when cold. All groups were held at 1º C and 10º C for 8 days.
For both experiments, CBD-treated strawberries fared better than those that didn’t receive any CBD. CBD-treated strawberries demonstrated significantly higher visual color ratings than the other strawberries after 4 days. CBD-treated strawberries also had far fewer yeast and mold counts than the other samples by day 4. And as far as texture and feel are concerned, strawberries treated with CBD were firmer and resulted in less withering than the other samples. Over the 8 days, CBD helped prevent decay compared to other conditions.
Temperature was an important factor in both experiments. CBD demonstrated the ability to preserve quality and extend shelf life of strawberries at 1º and 10º C; however, CBD’s protective efficacy was highest at 10º C.
Ultimately, the researchers conclude that “CBD oil has the potential to reduce microbial load and maintain the visual quality of strawberries, which would lengthen their shelf life.”
- Inselberg H, et al. Using cannabidiol as a potential postharvest treatment to maintain quality and extend the shelf life of strawberries. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 2021;173:111416. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.postharvbio.2020.111416. Impact Factor: 4.303; Times Cited: n/a]