Physicochemical and Descriptive Sensory Analysis of Arkansas-grown Peaches and Nectarines

in HortScience

Understanding how human perception is related to physicochemical attributes strengthens identification of ripeness and marketability parameters for peaches and nectarines [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch]. Six peach and nectarine cultivars (Amoore Sweet, Bowden, Effie, Loring, Souvenirs, and White River) and three advanced breeding selections (A-827, A-850, and A-865) were harvested from trees grown at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Fruit Breeding Program in Clarksville, AR. Physical and chemical characteristics of the genotypes at harvest were as follows: fruit weight of 134.4 to 330.2 g, firmness of 7.8 to 35.8 N, soluble solids of 7.5% to 14.7%, pH of 3.3 to 4.8, titratable acidity of 0.2% to 1.1%, total sugars of 1.7 to 10.4 g/100 g, and total organic acids of 0.1 to 0.9 g/100 g. Overall, A-865 had the lowest fruit weight (134.0 g) and pH (3.3), and the highest firmness (35.8 N), soluble solids (14.7%), titratable acidity (1.1%), total sugars (10.4 g/100 g), and total organic acids (0.8 g/100 g). ‘White River’ had the largest fruit (330.2 g) and pit (11.06 g). A-850 (63.6) had the highest soluble solids/titratable acidity ratio, and ‘Bowden’ (12.7) had the lowest. A trained descriptive sensory panel (n = 10) was used to create a lexicon for Arkansas-grown fresh-market peaches and nectarines. The panel evaluated the fruit for aroma (n = 4), external appearance (n = 8), internal appearance and pit attributes (n = 6), basic tastes (n = 3), aromatics while eating fruit (n = 5), feeling factors (n = 2), and texture (n = 6). Principal component analysis explained 63.4% of the data variance attributed to texture and acidity. Of all of the physicochemical attributes, firmness had the most significant correlations with the descriptive sensory attributes, followed by fruit weight. Firmness was negatively correlated (r = −0.70 to 0.81) to fruit size, fuzziness, amount of bruises on the flesh, pit size, and moisture release, and positively correlated (r = 0.68–0.84) to sourness, green/unripe aromatics, flesh hardness, flesh crispness, and fibrousness between the teeth. Fruit weight was positively correlated (r = 0.67–0.75) to fruit and pit size, overripe aromatics, and moisture release. Significant correlations between descriptive sensory appearance, basic tastes, aromatics, and texture attributes with physicochemical attributes provide an indication of ripeness and marketability parameters for peaches and nectarines. These descriptive attributes are quality factors that impact consumer purchases and perception of fresh-market peaches and nectarines.

Contributor Notes

This research was funded by the Specialty Crop Block Grant from the Arkansas Agriculture Department, U.S. Department of Agriculture (16SCBGPAR0038) and U.S. Department of Agriculture–National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hatch funds for “Breeding Peaches and Nectarines Adapted to the Soils and Climate of Arkansas” (Project Number ARK02402).

Corresponding author. E-mail: rthrelf@uark.edu.

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    Principal component (PC) analysis of physicochemical and descriptive sensory attributes of fresh-market peach and nectarine genotypes. Nectarines are indicated with shaded symbols, and peaches are indicated with hollow symbols.

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