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Yan Wang and S.J. Kays

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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K.H.S. Peiris and S.J. Kays

Centella asiatica, the Asiatic pennywort, is an herbaceous perennial indigenous to the southeastern United States. In some Asian countries, it is valued as an important vegetable and is widely cultivated. In addition, it is considered an important medicinal herb due primarily to the pentacyclic phytochemical, asiaticoside, which effectively treats a variety of skin diseases. Information on the botany, photochemistry, medicinal, nutritional value, and cultivation of the crop is reviewed. This species may warrant preliminary field and consumer acceptance tests as a speciality vegetable in the United States.

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W.J. McLaurin and S.J. Kays

Four high-yielding sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] cultivars displayed substantial leaf shedding, under typical field production conditions, that was not due to pathological or herbivory causes. Losses ranged from ≈ 45% to 60% of the total leaves formed by the normal harvest date during 2 years. There was a strong positive correlation between leaf shedding and the number of vines (r2 = 0.80) and nodes (r2 = 0.89) per plant. Likewise, positive correlations were found between leaf shedding and total dry weight (r2 = 0.67), root fresh weight (r2 = 0.65), root dry weight (r2 = 0.60), and vine dry weight (r2 = 0.68). Distinct differences were found among cultivars in dry-matter allocation within the plant. `Jewel' allocated a lower percentage of dry matter into vines and a higher percentage into storage roots. Estimated leaf dry matter losses due to leaf shedding ranged from 1.2 to 2.6 t·ha-1. High leaf losses appear to be closely related to vigorous vine growth and subsequent shading of older leaves but did not have a negative impact on storage root yield in the cultivars tested.

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W.J. McLaurin and S.J. Kays

Under typical field production conditions, four high-yielding sweetpotato cultivars (Centennial, Jewel, Regal and Resisto) were found to lose substantial amounts of leaves due to natural senescense rather than pathological or herbivory causes. Leaf loss by the normal harvest date ranged from 46 to 63% of the total leaves formed in 1991 and 48 to 59% in 1992. There was a strong positive correlation between leaves lost and the number of vines (r2 = 0.80) and nodes (r2 = 0.89) per plant. Positive correlations were also found between leaf loss and total dry weight of the plant (r2 = 0.67). root fresh weight (r2 = 0.65). root dry weight (r2 = 0.60), and vine dry weight (r2 = 0.68). Distinct differences were found among cultivars in dry matter allocation within the plant. Of the cultivars tested, 'Jewel' allotted a lower percentage of dry matter into vines and a greater percentage into storage roots. Estimated leaf dry matter losses due to leaf shedding ranged from 1.2 to 2.6 MT·ha-1. Amount of leaf loss appeared to be closely related to vigorous vine growth and subsequent shading of older leaves, though leaf loss did not have a negative impact on storage root yield in the cultivars tested.

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K.H.S. Peiris, J.L. Mallon, and S.J. Kays

Respiratory rate was measured and vital heat calculated for 18 specialty vegetables {arugula or roquette [Eruca sativa Miller], banana flower bud [Musa ×paradisiaca L. var. paradisiaca], bitter gourd [Momordica charantia L.], cassava [Manihot esculanta Crantz], chayote [Sechium edule (Jacq.) Swartz], Chinese chive [Allium tuberosum Rottler ex Sprengel], Chinese water chestnut [Eleocharis dulcis (Burm. f.) Trin. ex Henschel], drumstick [Moringa oleifera Lam.], giant or elephant garlic [Allium scorodoprasm L.], guar [Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (L.) Taub.], hyacinth bean [Lablab purpurus (L.) Sweet.], Jerusalem artichoke [Helianthus tuberosus L.], jicama [Pachyrhizus erosus (L.) Urban], methi [Trigonella foenum-graecum L.], salsify [Tragopogon porrifolius L.], tindora [Coccinia grandis (L.) Voigt], tomatillo [Physalis ixocarpa Brot. ex Hornem.], and tumeric [Curcuma longa L.]} at 0, 5, 10, and 20 °C. Respiration rates increased more or less exponentially with increasing storage temperature in all the vegetables tested, CO2 varying from 28 to 302 mg·kg−1·h−1 at 20 °C for tumeric and drumstick, respectively. At 0 °C, the same products had the lowest and highest respiration rates of the products measured (i.e., CO2 at 4.5 and 28 mg·kg-1·h−1, respectively). Among the vegetables tested, above-ground plant parts such as leaves, fruit, and flowers generally had higher respiration rates than subterrancan storage organs such as roots, corms, and tubers. Vital heat produced ranged from 49 J·kg-1·h-1 for tumeric at 0 °C to 3272 J·kg-1·h-1 for drumstick at 20 °C.

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K.H.S. Peiris, G.G. Dull, R.G. Leffler, and S.J. Kays

Spatial variation in soluble solids content (SSC) of fruits of apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh. cv. Red Delicious), cantaloupe (Cucumis melo L. Cantaloupensis group), grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macf. cv. Indian River Ruby Red), honeydew melon (Cucumis melo L. Inodorus group), mango (Mangifera indica L. cv. Hayden), orange (Citrus sinensis L. Osbeck. cv. Valencia), peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch. cv. Windblow), pineapple (Ananas comosus L. Merr. cv. Kew) and tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.), and of bulbs of onion (Allium cepa L. Cepa group) and in dry-matter content (DMC) of potato (Solanum tuberosum L. cv. Russet Burbank) tubers was measured along three directional orientations (i.e., proximal to distal, circumferentially midway along the proximal to distal axis, and radially from the center of the interior to the outer surface). The pattern and magnitude of constituent variation depended on the type of product and the direction of measurement. Radial and proximal to distal variation was greater than circumferential variation in all the products tested. Honeydew had the highest radial variation with a SSC difference of 6.0 % and a cv of 22.8%, while tomato displayed lower radial variation with a cv of 1.0%. Pineapple had a proximal to distal SSC difference of 4.6% with a cv of 13.8%, while the difference in tomato was 0.6% with a cv of 5.1%. Circumferential variation of SSC in all products tested was <2% with cv ranging from 1.1% to 3.8%. The results confirm that considerable constituent variability exists within individual fruit and vegetable organs. This variability may affect the accuracy of calibration equations and their prediction capability. Therefore, within-unit constituent variability should be meticulously assessed when an NIR spectrometric method is being developed for the nondestructive quality evaluation and sorting of a product.

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K.H.S. Peiris, G.G. Dull, R.G. Leffler, and S.J. Kays

A nondestructive method for measuring the soluble solids content (SSC) of individual processing tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) was developed using NIR spectrometry. A diode array fiber optic spectrometer was used to measure NIR transmittance. Each fruit was scanned at two locations on opposite sides midway along the proximal-distal axis. After scanning, each fruit was processed and pureed, and SSC was determined using a refractometer. Multiple linear regression (MLR), partial least squares (PLS) regression, and neural network (NN) calibration models were developed using the second derivatives of averaged spectra from 780 to 980 nm. The validation results showed that NN calibration was better than MLR or PLS calibrations. The NN calibration could estimate the processed SSC of individual unprocessed tomatoes with a standard error of prediction of 0.52% and could classify >72% of fruit in an independent population within ±0.5% of SSC.

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K.H.S. Peiris, G.G. Dull, R.G. Leffler, and S.J. Kays

A nondestructive method for measuring the soluble solids (SS) content of peaches [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] was developed using near-infrared (NIR) spectrometry. NIR transmittance in the 800 to 1050 nm region was measured for four cultivars of peaches (`Blake', `Encore', `Red Haven', and `Winblo'), over a period of three seasons (1993 through 1995). Each fruit was scanned on both halves keeping the suture away from the incident light beam. Soluble solids contents of flesh samples taken from corresponding scanned areas were determined using a refractometer. Multiple linear regression models using two wavelengths were developed with second derivative spectral data and laboratory measurements of SS content. Multiple correlation coefficients (R) for individual cultivar calibrations within a single season ranged from 0.76 to 0.98 with standard error of calibration (SEC) values from 0.35% to 1.22%. Selected spectra and corresponding SS data in individual cultivar calibration data sets were combined to create season and cultivar calibration data sets to cover the entire range of SS contents within the season or within the cultivar. These combined calibrations resulted in R values of 0.92 to 0.97 with SEC values ranging from 0.37% to 0.79%. Simple correlations of validations (r) ranged from 0.20 to 0.94 and the standard error of prediction (SEP) ranged from 0.49% to 1.63% while the bias varied from -0.01% to -2.62%. Lower r values and higher SEP and bias values resulted when individual cultivar calibrations were used to predict SS levels in other cultivar validation data sets. Cultivar calibrations, season calibrations and the overall calibration predicted SS content of all validation data sets with a smaller bias and SEP and with higher r values. These results indicate that NIR spectrometry is suitable for rapid nondestructive determination of SS in peaches. Feasible applications of the method include packinghouse sorting of peaches for sweetness and parent and progeny fruit quality assessment in peach breeding programs. Using this technique fruit may be sorted into two or three sweetness classes. The technique may also potentially be extended to other fruit.

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S.J. Kays, W.J. McLaurin, Y. Wang, P.D. Dukes, J. Thies, J.R. Bohac, and D.M. Jackson

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Jyh-Bin Sun, Ray F. Severson, William S. Schlotzhauer, and Stanley J. Kays

Thermal degradation of fractions from sweetpotato roots (`Jewel') was conducted with gas chromatographymass spectrometry to identify precursors of critical flavor volatiles. Upon heating (200 C), sweetpotato root material that was insoluble in methanol and methylene chloride produced similar volatile profiles to those from sweetpotatoes baked conventionally. Volatiles derived via thermal degradation of the nonpolar methylene chloride fraction and the polar methanol fraction did not display chromatographic profiles similar to those from conventionally baked sweetpotatoes. Initial reactions in the formation of critical volatiles appear to occur in the methanol and methylene chloride insoluble components. Maltol (3-hydroxy-2-methyl-4-pyrone) was found to be one of the critical components making up the characteristic aroma of baked sweetpotatoes. Integration of an analytical technique for the measurement of flavor into sweetpotato breeding programs could potentially facilitate the selection of improved and/or unique flavor types.