Sugars (sucrose, glucose, fructose, or glucose/fructose in combination) were added to coarsely chopped, deodorized tomato puree, increasing the sugar level of the puree by 2% to 3%. Sugars (equal amounts of glucose and fructose) along with citric acid were also added to another puree, at two different levels, to create a range of sugar: acid ratios (4.88–19.07). This second puree was then spiked with two different levels of aroma volatiles, reported to affect tomato flavor, in order to understand the influence of the sugar: acid background on tomato aroma and taste perception. The tomato puree was presented to a trained panel and was rated for intensity of aroma and taste descriptors on a 15-cm unstructured line scale. For the puree spiked with sugars only, panelists detected differences for overall aroma, ripe aroma, overall taste, sweetness and sourness intensities (P< 0.15). Adding sweet sugars, like fructose and sucrose, resulted in decreased ratings for aroma descriptors, apparently detracting from panelists' perception of aroma. The sugar: acid ratio of the second tomato puree was found to correlate with perception of taste descriptors sweet (+), sour (–), bitter (–) (P< 0.05), and citrus (–) (P< 0.15) for most volatiles tested. Correlations were also found for the sugar: acid ratio with overall aftertaste (–) when the puree was spiked with furanol, trans-2-hexenal, geranylacetone, or acetaldehyde; fruity (+) with β-ionone and linalool; and tropical (+) with cis-3-hexenal and geranylacetone (P< 0.15). The study suggests that increasing taste factors, like sweetness, result in decreased perception of tomato aroma in general, and affect how aroma compounds influence sensory descriptors.
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