Sand culture experiments were conducted in controlled environments to determine the effects of endogenous fruit Ca concentration on tissue firmness and the rates of softening following fresh-pack processing of pickling cucumbers. Fruit Ca status was modified by exposing the cucumber plants to 0.01, 0.1, 10, and 20 mM Ca in the nutrient solutions from fruit set to harvest. Ca concentrations were measured in pericarp and endocarp tissue. Spears were 4.5 cm diam. fruit were fresh-pack processed in 0, 5 or 20 mM CaCl2 solutions. Tissue texture during incubation at 46°C was measured at 0, 5 and 20 days using a shear press (TMS-90, Food Tech. Corp.). Pericarp tissue Ca concentrations were positively correlated with tissue firmness immediately following fresh-pack processing. High endogenous Ca levels, however, were correlated with high rates of pericarp softening during accelerated aging. Refrigeration extended the Ca effect on texture for 3 weeks following processing.
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