University of California

Abstracts by Category

Physiology and biochemistry of aroma and off-odors in fresh-cut products

Charles F. Forney (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Atlantic Food and Horticulture Research Centre, Kentville, NS)
The aroma of fresh-cut produce contributes to product quality and can determine consumer acceptability. Aroma is determined by the composition of volatile compounds released by the product, which is dependent on the product type, genetics, maturity and postharvest handling. The great diversity of fruits and vegetables provides a wide array of volatile chemistries that contribute to the unique aroma of each commodity. The aroma volatile content of the product at the time of cutting has a major impact on product aroma. Therefore, product maturity, or ripeness in the case of fruit, should be optimized to provide desirable aroma. In addition to volatile compounds produced by the intact commodity, secondary volatile compounds may be produced when products are cut or processed. Postharvest handling, including packaging and temperature management, also impact aroma. Aroma of fresh-cut produce changes as a result of diffusional and metabolic processes during marketing. Cutting removes natural diffusional barriers and interaction of volatiles with packaging materials can preserve aroma or hasten its loss. Atmosphere modification within packages also alters volatile metabolism. Atmosphere compositions low in oxygen and/or high in carbon dioxide can induce anaerobic metabolism, which may result in the production of off-odors. The introduction of precursors of aroma volatiles to fresh-cut produce has the potential to stimulate volatile production of fresh-cut produce and enhance product aroma. The dynamic nature of aroma presents a challenge to design postharvest systems to optimize product aroma and flavor.

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