Submitted to: Postharvest Biology and Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/10/2008
Publication Date: 1/1/2009
Citation: Bai, J., Wu, P., Manthey, J., Goodner, K., Baldwin, E. 2009. Effect of harvest maturity on quality of fresh-cut pear salad. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 51:250-256. Interpretive Summary: Pear quality if problematic since if pears are harvested early enough to be firm, they lack flavor, but if harvested later, they are thought to be too soft for shipping and handling and especially for processing into a fresh-cut product. This research compares two harvest maturities, commercial and a later harvest where the pear is more ripe and soft, for the purpose of a fresh-cut product for a fruit salad. Results showed that the later harvested fresh-cut pear was preferred by panelists, despite being softer, due to its superior flavor.
Technical Abstract: Texture of an unripe pear is firm and crisp, similar to an apple. However, at the crisp stage, the flavor of pears is flat. This study evaluated the effect of harvest maturity on the quality of fresh-cut pear salad. Fruit were harvested at commercial maturity and one month delayed. After 2 and 5 months (1 and 4 months for delayed-harvest fruit) of storage at -1 °C, fruit were sliced into 8-12 wedges per fruit, dipped in an anti-browning solution, packaged in zip-lock bags and stored at 1 °C for up to 21 days. Delayed-harvest fruit were larger in size (˜ 20% increase in weight), had lower flesh firmness (˜ 17% decrease), lower titratable acidity content (˜ 20% decrease), and lower phenolic content (˜ 45 and 13% decreases in pulp and peel, respectively). There was no significant difference in soluble solids content. After 2 months of storage, ethylene production and respiration rate were initially lower in the slices from delayed-harvest fruit, but tended to become similar after 7 days in storage at 1 °C. Delayed-harvest fruit had lower hydroxycinnamic acids and flavanols, and higher ester, alcohol, and aldehyde volatile compounds after 2-5 months of storage. The results indicated that fruit salad produced with delayed-harvest pears has less browning potential and better flavor. Sensory evaluation results showed that about 80% of the panel liked slices from delayed-harvest fruit over commercial harvested, especially in terms of visual quality (65-85%), sweetness (75-95%), taste (70-80%), and overall quality (75-80%) during 21 days of storage at 1°C. The cut surface of slices appeared dry in delayed-harvest fruit when processed after 5 months in storage. However, sensory evaluation showed that panels still preferred the delayed-harvest fruit.