Breeding sweetpotatoes [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] for improved flavor would be greatly facilitated by understanding the flavor chemistry of the crop. To ascertain the chemical composition of the aroma, an aroma extract of baked `Jewel' sweetpotatoes was obtained using a cold solvent trap system and analyzed by gas chromatography (GC), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and gas chromatography olfactometry (GCO) using aroma extract dilution analysis (AEDA). GC with a flame ionization detector (GC-FID) revealed ≈60 compounds presented in the aroma extract, of which 48 were identified. Olfactory evaluation of the eluted compounds using GC with a thermal conductivity detector (GC-TCD) indicated the presence of 37 odor-active peaks in the aroma extract. Three compounds, phenylacetaldehyde (perfume), maltol (caramel), and methyl geranate (2,6-octadienoic acid, 3,7-dimethyl-, methyl ester) (sweet candy) possessed the highest flavor dilution (FD) values (1500) via AEDA. 2-Acetyl furan (baked potato), 2-pentyl furan (floral), 2-acetyl pyrrole (sweet, caramel), geraniol (sweet floral), and β-ionone (violet) had FD values of 1000. These compounds are thought to be the most potent odorants in baked `Jewel' sweetpotatoes. Additionally, 1,2,4-trimethyl benzene, 2-furmethanol, benzaldehyde, 5-methyl-2-furfural, linalool, isopulegone, n-decanal, 2,4-decadienal, octyl ketone, α-copaene, 4-decanolide, and one unidentified compound were also contributors to the aroma. There was not a character impact compound that comprised the basic baked sweetpotato aroma. The aroma appeared to be made up of a relatively complex mixture of compounds. Maillard and/or caramelization reactions, Strecker degradation of phenylalanine, lipid and carotenoid degradation, and the thermal release of glycosidically bound terpenes appear to be involved in the formation of the characteristic aroma of baked `Jewel' sweetpotatoes.
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