Submitted to: Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/3/2008
Publication Date: 12/1/2008
Citation: Jouquand, C., Plotto, A., Goodner, K., Chandler, C. 2008. A sensory and chemical analysis of fresh strawberries over harvest dates and seasons reveals factors that affect eating quality. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science. 133(6):859-867. Interpretive Summary: Strawberry is second only to citrus as a fruit crop of importance to Florida, with Florida being the principal supplier of fresh strawberries in the Midwestern U.S. during the winter months. 'Festival', the main cultivar grown by the large commercial strawberry farms in Florida produces firm, attractive fruit, which are flavorful if harvested fully mature. However, quality traits of this cultivar’s fruit are highly affected by the harvest date and tend to be less than optimum in March. The purpose of this research is to understand the components of eating quality of new selections evaluated by the University of Florida for their ability to complement 'Festival', and the harvest date impact on their chemical and sensory characteristics. Taste panels were performed in 2006 and 2007 with five University of Florida new strawberry selections and two new Australian varieties. One selection, FL 00-51 maintained high flavor quality throughout the season, as well as the new variety 'Rubygem'.
Technical Abstract: The aim of this study was to understand the components of eating quality of several strawberry genotypes grown in Florida, over two harvest seasons. Six genotypes of the University of Florida Breeding program, as well as two new cultivars from Australia, 'Rubygem' and 'Sugarbaby', harvested on different dates from the same grower were evaluated by sensory evaluation. 'Festival', the main strawberry cultivar grown in Florida, had low ratings for flavor and sweetness in January and March. FL 00-51 and Rubygem had relatively high and consistent ratings for flavor and sweetness, compared to the other selections. Genotypes with low flavor ratings were always judged as "not sweet enough" by the panelists, thus linking flavor to sweetness preference. Instrumental analysis confirmed that most of the time these selections had low soluble solids content (SSC) and/or high titratable acidity (TA), thus explaining their lack of sweetness. Volatile compounds that varied only quantitatively did not seem to influence the flavor rating except for 'Sugarbaby'. This cultivar contained between 7 and 40 times less esters than the other selections and was disliked by panelists, in spite of its high sugar content and perceived sweetness. It was perceived as having an artificial peach or blueberry-like flavor. A principal component analysis was performed with chemical parameters (SSC, TA and volatile content) and selections over the two harvest seasons. Chemical composition was mainly influenced by harvest date, except for FL 00-51. This selection maintained high volatile content and SSC throughout the seasons.