The apple industry worldwide would benefit from an improved and standardized description of fresh-apple textural quality. The description proposed here is unique in that it integrates structural, sensory, and consumer information. To demonstrate its benefits, 24 apple cultivars [Malus ×sylvestris (L.) Mill. var. domestica (Borkh..) Mansf.] were sampled over two harvest seasons and analyzed using microstructural and sensory techniques. Cultivars were selected to cover a range of known sensory textures, and microstructural profiles were compiled in parallel with sensory and instrumental studies. Each cultivar was pre pared for conventional scanning electron microscopy (SEM) observation using standard methods. Representative fruit from each cultivar were photographed at three magnifications to visualize fruit architecture, tissue relationships, and size, shape, and arrangement of cells within layers to compile the microstructural profile. A trained sensory panel evaluated the cultivars for crispness, surface coarseness, sponginess, hardness, juiciness, degree of melting, mealiness, and skin toughness while a consumer panel rated liking. This information was compiled into a texture profile. The microstructural and texture profiles were then combined into a cultivar profile for each sample. Cultivar profiles were collected to form a database; subtle similarities and differences among the 28 market-quality samples were interpreted and noted. With this technique, those structures with similar sensory properties can be identified with some form of microscopy. Clarifying and predicting the parameters that are related to textural quality in new cultivars will streamline the introduction process.
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