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Title: Interaction of volatiles, sugars and acids on perception of tomato aroma and flavor descriptors

item Baldwin, Elizabeth - Liz
item Goodner, Kevin
item Plotto, Anne

Submitted to: Journal of Food Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/29/2008
Publication Date: 8/1/2008
Citation: Baldwin, E.A., Goodner, K., Plotto, A. 2008. Interaction of volatiles, sugars and acids on perception of tomato aroma and flavor descriptors. Journal of Food Science. 73(6):S294-S307.

Interpretive Summary: U.S. tomatoes have been losing market share to greenhouse grown fruit from Canada and hybrids from Mexico. Flavor is part of the problem. This study looks at the effect of sugars, acids and aroma compounds spiked into tomato puree using a trained sensory panel to better understand what drives perception of descriptors of tomato flavor. This information will be useful to breeders and geneticists who are working to improve tomato flavor.

Technical Abstract: To better understand the effect of sugars and acid levels on perception of aroma volatiles, intensity of tomato characteristic earthy/medicinal/musty, green/grassy/viny and fruity/floral aroma and flavor descriptors were evaluated using coarsely choped partially deodorized tomato puree spiked with 1.5 to 3% sugar (glucose/fructose combinations), 0.1 to 0.2% acid (citric/malic acid combinations), or water and two levels of 12 individual food grade volatiles that are reported to contribute to tomato flavor. The spiked and non-spiked purees were presented to a trained descriptive panel for flavor analysis. Six to eight panelists rated 9 aroma, 8 taste and 1 after-taste descriptors on a 15 cm unstructured line scale. Panelists detected significant differences (P < 0.1) for various individual aroma compound/sugar/acid combinations for a range of descriptors. Adding 0.2% acids alone to bland tomato puree decreased green and floral aromas, as well as sweet taste. Adding 3% sugars alone increased green and musty aromas and decreased floral aroma, as well as sour, citrus and bitter tastes. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) explained 56.5% of the variation for added acids and volatiles to bland tomato puree in the first three principal components (PCs). Effect of added acids with the various aroma compounds generally increased perception of overall and ripe tomato taste and aroma, tropical aroma and sour taste, but decreased floral and sweet tomato aromas in favor of musty, green, and vine aromas as well as citrus and bitter tastes. PCA for added sugars with volatiles explained 67.8% of the variation in first three PCs and sugars generally decreased perception of sour, bitter and citrus tastes and green aroma, while enhancing perception of flavors associated with ripe, tropical and aromatic tomatoes. Adding sugars, acids and volatiles together had a similar effect to addition of sugars alone.