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  • Author or Editor: Stephen T. Talcott x
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The present study was conducted to explore the process of watersoaking seen previously in beit alpha-type cucumber fruit treated with ethylene. Fruit were harvested at four levels of maturity: Immature (4 to 8 days after anthesis, DAA), Mature (10 to 14 DAA), Breaker (16 to 20 DAA), and Yellow (35 to 40 DAA). Fruit were then stored at 13 °C in the presence of air (control) or either 10 μL·L-1 ethylene or 1300 μL·L-1 propylene for up to 12 days. The physiological response to ethylene treatment varied with fruit maturity. Immature-stage fruit treated with ethylene for 9 days had mesocarp watersoaking, epidermal sloughing, and lower hue (118°, control 124°), endocarp pH (4.4, control 5.4), and whole fruit firmness (23 N, control 46 N). Mature-stage fruit behaved similarly to Immature-stage fruit, but lacked mesocarp watersoaking. In contrast, after 9 days of ethylene exposure, the Breaker- and Yellow-stage fruit exhibited no watersoaking, accumulated beta-carotene in peel tissue (13.6 μg·g-1 F.W, control 0.35 μg·g-1 F.W.) and had a “melon”-like aroma. Ethylene exposure for all maturities increased respiration rate and decay incidence compared to air-treated fruit. Ethylene evolution was only detectable in fruit with visible decay. Decay incidence in response to ethylene treatment was inversely proportional to maturity at harvest. Watersoaking, exhibited exclusively in Immature fruit, spread inward from the epidermis starting after about 6 days of ethylene treatment. Cells in watersoaked tissue stained negatively for viability with fluorescein diacetate and cells proximal to watersoaked cells stained weakly compared to air-treated controls. Current work is focused on identifying the mechanism of cell death.

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The grape (Vitis vinifera) industry has long been a leader in the utilization of edible by-products to increase the revenue of the industry with products such as grape seed extract, dried pomace, and pigment extracts. However, the muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia) industry in the southeastern United States has lagged in the development of secondary products from wine and juice manufacture due to economic and processing limitations associated with this grape. Processing of pomaces rich in polyphenolics, such as muscadine grapes, can lead to an increase in economic value per ton of fruit and the decrease of waste material generated. Therefore, the profitability of two drying technologies (spray drying and vacuum concentration) was assessed as means to extract and concentrate polyphenolics from muscadine grape pomace. An economic analysis was conducted based on break-even point analysis, sensitivity analysis, and return on investment estimation. Assumptions were required to complete the analysis. Using initial production conditions (124 kg of extract at $140/kg, and 11,309 kg of dried skins at $3.00/kg), the profit generated from spray drying was higher than vacuum concentration. In addition, return of investment was 10% higher in spray drying (22.2%) compared with vacuum concentration (12.3%), which barely covered the net present value of the operation. Although spray drying proved to be a less expensive technology (with the actual characteristics and proper assumptions), the vacuum evaporator used for this situation had three times the capacity of the spray dryer, thus only vacuum concentration would support a potential growth in extract production if the volume processed was to be increased significantly. Sensitivity analysis illustrated that both technologies obtained positive results with initial production conditions with a 40% increase in production and prices. This study also illustrated various assumptions that could be changed to recalculate and readjust investment and costs of any processor.

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Greenhouse-grown bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L. `Robusta') were harvested at five stages of maturation (10% red to full red) in early winter 2002 (Expt. 1) and at two stages (10% red and full red) in early Spring 2002 (Expt. 2). The fruit were subsequently stored at 20 °C in a continuous-flow chamber consisting of either 100 μL·L–1 ethylene (balance air) or air-only (control) at 90% relative humidity (RH). Individual fruit were removed from the chambers upon reaching full red color, and stored at –30 °C until physicochemical analyses were conducted. Harvest maturity, and ethylene exposure had no appreciable effect on pulp soluble solids content, total titratable acidity or pH. Exposure to ethylene hastened ripening time compared to the air control but was independent of fruit maturity at harvest. Fruit exposed to ethylene reached full-red color 6.4 days (Expt. 1) and 4 days (Expt. 2) earlier than air-only fruit, respectively. There were no significant phytochemical and antioxidant differences noted for total carotenoids, total ascorbic acid, and soluble phenolics at various maturity stages due to ethylene exposure. Appreciable differences were observed between the two experiments for phytochemicals and antioxidants, as bell peppers from the latter experiment contained at least twice the concentrations of phytochemicals and antioxidant capacity as those from the first experiment. Differences in these parameters between experiments were attributed to environmental factors such as average temperature, day length, and light intensity. Ethylene was demonstrated to be an effective postharvest treatment for accelerating color change in this bell pepper cultivar, permitting earlier harvest without altering phytochemical synthesis rates.

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The effects of cultivar, harvest date, and production year on the soluble solids and antioxidant phytochemical levels of 22 strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) genotypes grown in a winter annual hill (raised bed) production system were investigated. Fruit harvested in Jan. 2003 and 2004 were characterized by low polyphenolic content, but high concentrations of soluble solids and ascorbic acid; whereas fruit harvested in Feb. 2003 and 2004 generally had elevated polyphenolic concentrations, but lower levels of soluble solids and ascorbic acid. Annual variation in soluble solids and phytochemical composition was also observed among nine strawberry genotypes, which was likely attributable to variations in solar radiation and air temperature. `Earlibrite' was among the highest for soluble solids concentration on three of the four harvest dates, while `Carmine' was noted for its high phytochemical concentrations across harvest dates and years. The breeder selection `FL 99-117' emerged as a promising selection in terms of producing fruit with high concentrations of soluble solids and antioxidant phytochemicals.

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