Submitted to: Stewart Postharvest Review
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/27/2006
Publication Date: 2/10/2007
Citation: Baldwin, E.A., Plotto, A., Goodner, K.L. 2007. Shelf-life versus flavour-life for fruits and vegetables: how to evaluate this complex trait. Stewart Postharvest Review. 1:3 1-10.
Interpretive Summary: This review covers the effect of harvest maturity and postharvest handling techniques on fresh fruit and vegetable flavor quality. Fresh produce is often stored or displayed commercially for as long as the commodity appearance is acceptable. This external quality (appearance) can last longer than internal quality characteristics such as flavor. While external quality drives initial sales, repeat purchases are based on internal quality factors including texture and flavor. Flavor is a complex trait and techniques for both instrumental and sensory analysis of flavor is detailed in the review.
Technical Abstract: This review highlights progress made in the recent past in understanding the flavor quality of fruits and vegetables, how it is perceived, how to evaluate this trait, and how it is affected by harvest maturity and postharvest handling. The field of flavor chemistry and sensory science is rapidly evolving in terms of new detection technology, refinement of sensory techniques and understanding human perception of flavor as well as relating sensory to instrumental data. This is especially true for fruit and vegetable flavor and needs to be taken into consideration when determining shelf life and evaluating quality of fresh produce. Flavor is a complex trait comprised of many variables including sugars, acids, volatiles and other compounds and, thus, is difficult to evaluate both chemically and in terms of sensory perception. The relationship between chemical and sensory data is also sometimes difficult to interpret. The individual contributions of flavor compounds and their interactions in terms of the overall flavor quality of fresh produce needs to be determined for many important horticultural crops. The effect of harvest maturity, handling, storage temperature and shelf life duration needs to be evaluated for flavor quality shelf life, which may be shorter than for appearance shelf life for many commodities.