Eating quality of `Gala' and `Fuji' apples (Malus domestica Borkh.) from multiple harvests and storage durations was assessed using an untrained consumer panel. Apples were harvested at weekly intervals for 6 weeks and stored in air. Changes due to harvest maturity and storage for overall liking (OL), sweetness, tartness, firmness, and flavor intensity were evaluated over 8 months. A multivariate factor analysis revealed multicollinearity for OL, sweetness, and flavor intensity ratings in both cultivars. These attributes had the highest loadings in the first factor, explaining 51% and 52% of the variance of `Gala' and `Fuji' data sets, respectively, and were interpreted as a quality factor. Tartness and firmness had the highest loadings in the second factor for `Gala', explaining an additional 23% of the variability and reducing that cultivar's data set to two factors. For `Fuji', however, tartness and firmness were independent and included in factors 2 and 3, respectively. Factors 2 and 3 were interpreted as maturity factors, which explained 23% and 12% of the variance. The plots of the mean factor scores provided a multivariate technique to illustrate that panelists could differentiate between the stages of maturity of apples. Canonical correlations were calculated between the sensory and instrumental data. Only firmness measurements were correlated with sensory ratings for firmness (r = 0.53 and 0.44 for `Gala' and `Fuji', respectively).
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