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Volatile changes in cantaloupe during growth, maturation, and in stored fresh-cuts prepared from fruit harvested at various maturities

Beaulieu, J.C.
Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 2006 v.131 no.1 pp. 127
cantaloupes, Cucumis melo, fruit quality, raw fruit, ripening, senescence, volatilization, food storage, fruit composition, flavor, volatile compounds, esters, harvest date, solid phase extraction, gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, analytical methods, odors, storage time, long term effects
A likely reason why consumers are not repeat buyers of many fresh-cut fruit is inconsistent or unsatisfactory flavor and/or textural quality. Research toward understanding mechanisms responsible for generation, and/or loss of flavor compounds in fresh-cut fruit is limited. Solid phase microextraction (SPME) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) were utilized to study flavor volatile profiles in anthesis-tagged cantaloupe (Cucumis melo L. var. reticulatus Naud. cv. Sol Real) during growth, development, and for fresh-cuts prepared from fruit with five distinctly different harvest maturities. One-quarter-slip fruit had a clearly green, well-attached peduncle; 1/2-slip fruit had a distinct abscission detectable at the peduncle, 3/4-slip fruit were approaching commercial harvest, full-slip (FS) fruit are or will cleanly separate from the vine with light pressure; and over-ripeness (OR) was precisely categorized as 2 days past FS. Recovery of total volatiles displayed a linear response and most volatile classes (except aldehydes) generally followed a trend upon processing where FS > 3/4-slip > 1/2-slip > 1/4-slip. On day 0, only 70.0%, 37.7%, and 20.5% total volatiles were recovered in 3/4-slip, 1/2-slip, and 1/4-slip fruit, compared to FS fruit. During fresh-cut storage, percent total esters followed an increasing linear trend that was maturity-dependent. Percent total aromatics and percent aldehydes followed a linear trend that was maturity-dependent whereby 1/4-slip > 1/2-slip > 3/4-slip > FS. During storage, the relative percentage of acetates decreased, and displayed a maturity-dependent curvilinear trend. The magnitude of the slope decreased with maturity, indicating that the effect of storage time decreased as maturity increased. In FS, 3/4-slip, 1/2-slip, and 1/4-slip cubes, acetates comprised 66.9% of all compounds recovered on day 0 yet, only 26.1% to 44.2%, and 21.3% to 32.6% remained on days 9 and 14, respectively. For all maturities, a curvilinear increase in relative percentage of nonacetate esters was observed during storage. There was a uniform change in the ester balance (nonacetate ester:acetate ratio) during fresh-cut storage, which was independent of initial processing maturity. The overall ester ratio changed roughly 2-fold after just 2 days in optimum storage, and after 5 days it increased more than 3-fold. The shift in endogenous ester compounds could be partially responsible for the apparent loss of characteristic flavor in fresh-cut cantaloupe through long-term storage.