Manipulation of sensory characteristics and volatile compounds in strawberry fruit through the use of isolated wavelengths of light.J Food Sci. 2020 Mar; 85(3):771-780.JF
Consumers consistently note that there is room for improvement in the flavor of commercial strawberries. Fruit flavor and aroma are affected by both genetics and environment. This work tests the hypothesis that sensory quality may be manipulated using postharvest light treatments. Individual detached fruits representing two different cultivars received a 24-hr treatment of 100 µmol m-2 s-1 blue LED light while the control was kept in complete darkness. Following treatment, samples were analyzed for flavor volatiles, sugars, acids, firmness, and sensory differences in human trials. Fruits were rated for overall liking, texture, sweetness, sourness, and overall strawberry flavor intensity (OSFI) on the sensory and hedonic versions of the global intensity scale (GIS). A positive treatment effect was observed for "Strawberry Festival" fruit for the overall liking rating. A triangle test revealed a significant treatment effect, as light-treated fruit tested higher in many flavor volatiles including those known to contribute to sweetness in strawberries. Levels of several volatiles were consistently higher in the treated fruit across all four harvests: acetic acid hexyl ester, butanoic acid octyl ester, methyl isovalerate, and pentanoic acid ethyl ester. The results show that postharvest light treatment can be used to modulate sensory quality of fruit, perhaps offering a means to complement genetic efforts in fruit flavor and aroma improvement. PRACTICAL APPLICATION: The results indicate that it may be possible to increase the sensory quality of strawberry fruits using an inexpensive and noninvasive light treatment. Light may be applied during transport or storage to improve fruit quality. This concept could also be extended into other realms of storage, such as residential and commercial refrigeration, further increasing the quality impact of the approach.