Sensory and Instrumental Measurement of Texture of Fruits and Vegetables

in HortScience
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  • 1 USDA-ARS, Produce Quality and Safety Laboratory, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350

Demand for fresh fruits and vegetables is increasing worldwide in response to health concerns, wealth, and the desire for variety in the diet. However, consumption of produce is contingent on the ability of the industry to provide high quality fresh produce and on its convenience, as well as on consumer education and economics. Texture measurement is accepted by horticultural industries as a critical indicator of quality of fruits and vegetables. The fresh produce industry and, indirectly, consumers need methods for measuring produce texture to ensure the quality within a grade, and scientists need measurements to quantify the results of their treatments, whether treatments are genetic, chemical, or physical. The variety of attributes required to fully describe textural properties can only be fully measured by sensory evaluation by a panel of trained assessors. However, instrumental measurements are preferred over sensory evaluations for both commercial and research applications because instruments are more convenient, less expensive, and tend to provide consistent values when used by different people. Thus, instrumental measurements need to be developed that predict sensory evaluations of texture. Such instrumental measurements can then provide a common language among researchers, producers, packers, regulatory agencies, and customers. We compare sensory evaluations of specific critical textural attributes to instrumental force/deformation measurements on a wide variety of fruits and vegetables with relatively uniform bulk tissues, such as apples, bananas, carrots, jicama, melons, pears, potatoes, rutabagas, and several others.

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