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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Gainesville, Florida » Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology » Chemistry Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #391856

Research Project: Molecular and Biochemical Characterization of Biotic and Abiotic Stress on Plant Defense Responses in Maize

Location: Chemistry Research

Title: The impact of post-harvest storage on sweetcorn aroma

item Yactayo Chang, Jessica
item BOEHLEIN, SUSAN - University Of Florida
item LIBERTINI, GIULIA - University Of Florida
item BEIRIGER, ROBERT - University Of Florida
item RESENDE, MARCIO - University Of Florida
item BRUTON, ROBERT - Former ARS Employee
item Alborn, Hans
item TRACY, WILLIAM - University Of Wisconsin
item Block, Anna

Submitted to: Phytochemistry Letters
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/2/2022
Publication Date: 9/13/2022
Citation: Yactayo Chang, J.P., Boehlein, S., Libertini, G., Beiriger, R., Resende, M., Bruton, R.G., Alborn, H.T., Tracy, W.F., Block, A.K. 2022. The impact of post-harvest storage on sweetcorn aroma. Phytochemistry Letters. 52:33-39.

Interpretive Summary: The distinctive flavor of sweetcorn arises from a combination of its sweetness and aroma. These traits are due to the sugar content of sweetcorn kernels and the amount of specific aroma compounds produced during cooking. USDA-ARS scientists from the Chemistry Research Unit in Gainesville FL in collaboration with scientists from the Universities of Florida and Wisconsin investigated the effect of storage temperature on the flavor of fresh market sweetcorn. These studies show that keeping sweetcorn in the fridge rather than at room temperature allows it to maintain both its sweetness and flavorful aroma compounds for longer.

Technical Abstract: Fresh market sweetcorn (Zea mays L.) is a high sugar, high moisture vegetable that, due to its fast metabolic rate, is susceptible to rapid post-harvest decay at ambient temperatures. Immediate cooling and storage at low but not freezing temperatures are well established industry practices for maintaining post-harvest sugar content. Less is known about how post-harvest storage temperature impacts other important sweetcorn consumer traits, such as aroma. In this study we measure the production and stability of the cooked sweetcorn aroma compounds dimethyl sulfide, dimethyl disulfide, dimethyl trisulfide, 3-methyl furan, 3-methyl butanal and 2-methyl butanal. We reveal that these aroma compounds are also susceptible to post-harvest decay if sweetcorn is stored at ambient rather than cool temperatures. Furthermore, the quantities and post-harvest decay rates of aroma volatiles vary among different sweetcorn lines, indicating that sweetcorn genetics can impact maintenance of post-harvest flavor.