Fresh-cut melons in many consumer-ready packages are notorious for “wetting” and accumulation of standing juices. These conditions likely create undesirable flavor and aroma changes. We initiated a study to investigate flavor changes in stored fresh-cut cantaloupe. One objective was to optimize solid phase microextraction (SPME) to evaluate organoleptic compounds. Static head-space SPME analyses were performed on fresh-cut cantaloupe cubes (≈2.5 mm, 5 mm, or 2.5 cm), expressed juice, and homogenized slurries. SPME fiber (100 μm PDMS vs. 75 μm Carboxen/PDMS) exposure time (5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15, 17.5, 20 min) was evaluated at 40 °C with various head-space: product ratios, plus or minus NaCl to produce typical chromatograms. Fibers were desorbed in an HP5890 GC with a DB-624 or DB-5 column for 45-min runs and an HP6890 GC (DB-5) equipped with a 5973 MS detector for 35-min runs. Albeit qualitative, the best chromatograms were obtained with 7-ml slurries, stirred with NaCl, exposed to a 10 0μm PDMS SPME fiber for 12.5 min. The 100 μm PDMS fiber produced better chromatograms considering the fact that many important flavor volatiles are low-molecular-weight polar esters and alcohols. These conditions were subsequently used to analyze numerous fresh-cut cantaloupe samples stored various times (0 to 9 days). Over 100 peaks were identified, many of which changed through storage and some are suspected as probable agents responsible for undesirable flavor changes. Our analyses are progressing in an attempt to authenticate compounds associated with flavor-related changes in numerous fresh-cut cantaloupe varieties from various growing regions.
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