Submitted to: Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/14/2007
Publication Date: 9/10/2007
Citation: Beaulieu, J.C. 2007. Quality changes in cantaloupe during growth, maturation, and in stored fresh-cuts prepared from fruit harvested at various maturities. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science. 132(5):720-728.
Interpretive Summary: Fresh-cut sales have grown in a linear manner, at roughly $1 billion per year. However, fresh-cut fruit sales have lagged behind their counterpart, vegetables, due to complicated physiological and biochemical events that are not as common in fresh-cut salads. There is limited information available concerning physiological differences and post-cutting storage in fresh-cut fruits prepared at various maturities. Cantaloupe quality and flavor are highly dependent on the initial ripeness of the fruit (maturity is designated by the level of “slip”; the separation of an individual fruit from the plant as it ripens). Subsequently, a post-cutting appraisal to discriminate changes in important physiological parameters in fresh-cuts prepared from four different initial maturities (1/4-slip, 1/2-slip, 3/4-slip and full-slip) was performed. Those parameters considered important to consumers such as color, sugars, visual appearance, vitamin C, and firmness were evaluated. This research indicates that fresh-cut cantaloupe cubes with desirable sensorial attributes can be prepared with fruit when harvested ½-slip, but not from ¼-slip fruit. This information will help the industry realize that initial product maturity is critical for continued sales and enhancing their customer base.
Technical Abstract: Cantaloupe (Cucumis melo Var. reticulatus, Naudin) was evaluated during development and 37 then fresh-cuts were stored after preparation from various maturities to track quality changes 38 during storage. Flowers were anthesis tagged one morning in two seasons (years) and 39 developing fruit were harvested weekly at 13, 20, 27-28, and 34-35 d after anthesis (DAA). Forty mature fruit were harvested at 37-38 DAA with five distinct maturities: 1/4-, 1/2-, 3/4-slip, full 41 slip (FS) and over-ripe (OR). Hunter L* and a* color values indicated change from pale green to 42 light orange that occurred after 28 DAA. There were significant () decreases in L*, a* and b* by 43 day 9 in storage as fresh-cuts. After 28 DAA, sucrose dramatically increased, and this was 44 positively correlated with increases in both total sugars (r = 0.882, P = 0.084) and °Brix (r = 45 0.939, P = 0.041). Gradual subjective deterioration occurred during storage, which was 46 independent of maturity. There was a negative linear trend over the length of storage in hand 47 held (McCormick) and instrumental (TA.XT2) firmness for each maturity level and the slopes 48 decreased significantly with increasing maturity; indicating the effect of storage duration 49 decreased as maturity increased. There was a significant increasing trend in Vitamin C (p-value 50 = 0.042) during development from 12 through 35 DAA, then losses were greater in fresh-cuts 51 prepared from full-slip fruit65%) than less mature fruits; 3/4-slip 50%, 1/2-slip 48%, 1/4-slip 52 40%. The pH of mesocarp tissue dropped to the lowest value (5.25) just prior to physiological 53 maturity at 27-28 DAA, then peaked after harvest (6.51 – 6.79), and declined somewhat by the 54 end of fresh-cut storage. In summary, considering other publications on this study, and herein, fruit 55 should be harvested 1/2-slip to attain optimum physiological quality, consumer acceptability 56 and storability.