Relationship between Levels of Sesquiterpene Lactones in Chicory and Sensory Evaluation

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

In this pilot study, we investigated the relationship between levels of bitter sesquiterpene lactones and sensory evaluation of chicory (Cichorium intybus L.). The levels of two bitter sesquiterpene lactones—lactucopicrin and lactucin-like sesquiterpene lactones—were measured by ELISA in raw and cooked chicory samples from several cultivars. Data were compared with the results of a sensory evaluation on the flavor attributes bitterness, typical chicory flavor, and total flavor intensity of identical chicory samples. Linear regression analysis demonstrated that the levels of lactucin-like sesquiterpene lactones were significantly related to bitterness (P = 0.006) and total flavor intensity (P = 0.03) attributes in raw chicory samples. When cooked chicory samples were evaluated, the levels of lactucin-like sesquiterpene lactones were significantly related to bitterness (P = 0.002), typical chicory flavor (P < 0.001), and total flavor intensity (P = 0.009) attributes, while lactucopicrin levels were related to bitterness (P = 0.002) only. These results show that the ELISA can be useful to predict flavor attributes in chicory.

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