In the GreenCHAINge project, research focus was on understanding taste of strawberries better in relation to harvest maturity. This research result describes what happens in the postharvest life of strawberries in relation to taste.
Results on consumer perception of taste
Taste (and flavour) of strawberries knows many attributes. Ripe strawberries score high on the sensory attributes of juiciness, sweetness, aroma presence, aroma liking, fruity aroma, strawberry aroma. These attributes contribute positively to taste perception. Unripe strawberries score higher for negative aspects such as sourness, green aroma, bitterness and astringency. In addition unripe strawberries showe a high score for overall firmness and seed firmness whereas ripe strawberries score higher for mealiness.
Results on non-destructive measurement of taste
Taste is an important feature of quality. The current assessment of taste with expert or consumer panels is expensive and time consuming. Therefore alternative methods are needed. Scientists have explore the potential of volatile detection from a distance, to assess the taste of strawberries without destroying them.
Volatiles are the gaseous compounds that the fruit generates because of its biological activity. Fruits are living products and depending on their maturity they 'breathe out' different gasses. It is of interest to know which volatiles are related to ripe and tasty strawberries.
Currently, volatile detection for identifying strawberry taste is still in the research phase. We expect that this is a first step towards the development of a new objective technique to assess strawberry taste in industry. Such a non-destructive measurement method is of interest to the industry for screening new cultivars.
Correlation between taste and maturity level
The effect of maturity stage on taste and flavour is far stronger than the effect of the length of storage.
Ripe strawberries correlated with the perception of pleasant fruity aromas and sweetness. The changes in flavour and taste perception during shelf life differ significantly between ripe and unripe strawberries.
Unripe strawberries are perceived as less sweet than ripe strawberries. The score for pleasant aroma of unripe strawberries, does not increase over storage time.
Maturity at harvest has an essential influence on the taste of strawberries. Taste perception of unripe strawberries does not improve during shelf life and never achieves the test scores of ripe strawberries. This is the main conclusion from maturity research on strawberries. This finding highlights the importance of harvesting strawberries at the optimum stage of ripeness. They should not be harvested too early.
Take away message
Harvest your strawberries ripe, the taste of ripe strawberries is much more appreciated than of unripe strawberries. Shelf life hardly influences taste perception
This project was commissioned and funded by Driscoll's and Bakker Barendrecht and cofunded by Top Sector for Horticulture & Starting Materials.
Questions? Please contact the WP leader Fátima Pereira da Silva through the contact form below.