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Title: Sensory and analytical characteristics of a novel hybrid muskmelon fruit intended for the fresh-cut industry

item Saftner, Robert
item Lester, Gene

Submitted to: Postharvest Biology and Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/4/2008
Publication Date: 3/1/2009
Citation: Saftner, R.A., Lester, G.E. 2009. Sensory and analytical characteristics of a novel hybrid muskmelon fruit intended for the fresh-cut industry. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 51(3):327-333.

Interpretive Summary: In the United States, whole and fresh-cut melon fruits are the #1 most consumed fresh fruit, but the domestic U.S. melon industry cannot provide the necessary product volume to fulfill this demand especially during the winter season. As a result, many breeding efforts in the U.S. actively seek germplasm world-wide that can be stored 4 to 5 weeks to accommodate long distance surface shipment to the USA and that have good flavor, texture and color characteristics after transit and marketing. A U.S. Vegetable Seed Co. has developed an extra firm hybrid netted muskmelon specifically for the fresh-cut industry. In this paper, we report that fresh-cut chunks from hybrid fruit had higher soluble solids content and were firmer than those from commercial muskmelon fruit available during the winter. Consumers preferred the appearance, texture and flavor of chunks from hybrid fruit to those from netted and non-netted muskmelons available during the winter. Hybrid fruit stored five weeks at 1 degree celsius, and then fresh-cut and stored 14 days at 5 degree celsius maintained good market quality. This information will be of use to the fresh-cut fruit industry and to postharvest scientists evaluating the quality of and/or predicting consumer preferences for melon fruit from various germplasms/cultivars.

Technical Abstract: A novel hybrid muskmelon has been bred specifically for use by the fresh-cut industry in winter. Quality characteristics of fresh-cut chunks from the hybrid were compared to those of its inbred parental lines and to those of a commercial netted muskmelon (cantaloupe) and a non-netted muskmelon (honeydew) fruit available in winter. Chunks from hybrid and female line fruit had higher soluble solids content (SSC) and firmness, and lower aromatic volatile concentrations compared to those from the male line fruit. Chunks from hybrid fruit also had higher SSC (>3%) and were firmer (>5 N) than commercial fruit available during the winter, and had twice the aromatic volatile concentration of commercial honeydew and a more intense orange hue than commercial muskmelon. Consumers rated the flavor, texture, sweetness and overall eating quality of the hybrid higher than its inbred parents and winter-available honeydew and as well as or better than winter-available muskmelon. Hybrid fruit stored 5 weeks at 1 °C under modified atmospheric conditions, then fresh-cut and stored 14 d in air at 5 °C maintained good quality (firmness = 51 N, SSC >12 %, ß-carotene and ascorbic acid concentrations = 18 and 182 mg kg-1, respectively), and showed no signs of tissue translucency or surface pitting despite microbial populations >11 log10 kg-1. The results indicate that the novel hybrid muskmelon is a promising new melon type for fresh-cut processing and marketing, at least during the winter season.