Researchers from the University of Florida valued fresh strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa) for their characteristic red colour, juicy texture, distinct aroma, and sweet fruity flavour.
In this study, published on Plos One, genetic and environmentally induced variation is exploited to capture biochemically diverse strawberry fruit for metabolite profiling and consumer rating. Analyses identify fruit attributes influencing hedonics and sensory perception of strawberry fruit using a psychophysics approach.
Sweetness intensity, flavour intensity, and texture liking are dependent on sugar concentrations, specific volatile compounds, and fruit firmness, respectively. Overall liking is most greatly influenced by sweetness and strawberry flavour intensity, which are undermined by environmental pressures that reduce sucrose and total volatile content. The volatile profiles among commercial strawberry varieties are complex and distinct, but a list of perceptually impactful compounds from the larger mixture is better defined. Particular esters, terpenes, and furans have the most significant fits to strawberry flavour intensity. In total, thirty-one volatile compounds are found to be significantly correlated to strawberry flavour intensity, only one of them negatively. Further analysis identifies individual volatile compounds that have an enhancing effect on perceived sweetness intensity of fruit independent of sugar content.
These findings allow for consumer influence in the breeding of more desirable fruits and vegetables. Also, this approach garners insights into fruit metabolomics, flavour chemistry, and a paradigm for enhancing liking of natural or processed products.