The researchers, from the University of Florida, examined 35 strawberry varieties over two growing seasons and used a panel of 166 volunteers to assess their flavour, including overall liking, texture liking, intensity of sweetness, sourness, and strawberry flavour.
They found that the strawberries’ sugar content was a significant factor influencing liking – but so was strawberry flavour intensity, influenced by a range of other compounds. The study’s authors isolated 30 flavour volatiles that positively affected taste perception, including six that boosted sweetness perception independent of sugar content.
Lead author Michael Schwieterman said these six volatiles were among the researchers’ top “targets of interest”.
“These findings allow for consumer influence in the breeding of more desirable fruits and vegetables. Also, this approach garners insights into fruit metabolomics, flavour chemistry, and a paradigm for enhancing liking of natural or processed products,” the researchers wrote.
They said that the initial target of the research was to improve the flavour perception of fruits and vegetables – which could help increase consumption. However, there was also scope to use specific compounds in other foods to increase liking and sweetness perception, they said.
“The importance of sucrose to sweetness intensity is evident, and the correlation of total volatiles to sucrose highlights the dependence of secondary metabolism to primary metabolism,” they wrote.
“Individual volatiles correlate to strawberry flavour intensity, helping to better define distinct, perceptually impactful compounds from the larger mixture of the fruit.”
The full study is available online here .
Source: PLOS ONE
“Strawberry Flavor: Diverse Chemical Compositions, a Seasonal Influence, and Effects on Sensory Perception”
Authors: Michael L. Schwieterman, Thomas A. Colquhoun, Elizabeth A. Jaworski, et al.