Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/10/2002
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Flavor of fruits and vegetables is comprised of tastes that can be detected on the tongue such as sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and astringency; and odors that can be detected by the nose, including hundreds of aroma compounds. The compounds that are responsible for taste and especially aroma in fruits and vegetables are often many and chemically complex. Detection of these compounds by humans is also a complex process. This chapter describes the many compounds that are thought to be responsible for flavor in several popular fruits and vegetables. It also describes how these compounds are measured and how it is determined that they impact flavor.
Technical Abstract: Flavor of fruits and vegetables is comprised mainly of sweetness, sourness, and aroma which correspond to sugars, acids, and volatile compounds. Other components in fresh produce are perceived as bitter, astringent, savory, or salty. These correspond to flavonoids and alkaloids, tannins, glutamate, and mineral salts, respectively. Flavor chemicals can interact with each other or other non-flavor compounds, both chemically and in terms of human perception. This can result in synergistic enhancement, muting, or masking of specific flavor attributes. Taste components are detected in parts per hundred by receptors on the tongue, while aroma compounds are detected by olfactory sensors at the back of the nose in parts per billion. Lack of attention to flavor compounds in breeding programs has led to flavor mediocrity in fresh produce. This has occurred because fruit and vegetable breeders have little information on flavor compounds available for use in selecting for this complex trait.