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

Citation

FORNEY, C. F. 2016. Physiology and biochemistry of aroma and off-odors in fresh-cut products. Acta Horticulturae, 1141, 35-46.

Plain language summary

Fresh-cut produce is an increasingly popular form by which fresh fruits and vegetables are marketed because of its ready-to eat/cook convenience and nutritious attributes. The aroma of fresh‐cut produce is an important quality parameter that influences consumer acceptability. Aroma is determined by the composition of volatile compounds released by the product and is dependent on many factors including the product type, genetics, maturity, and postharvest handling. The great diversity of fruits and vegetables provides a wide array of volatile compounds that determine the unique aroma of each fresh-cut product. The aroma of the fresh fruit or vegetable prior to cutting is dependent on its maturity, or ripeness in the case of fruit, and should be optimized to provide desirable aroma of the cut product. In addition, the cutting process may alter the aroma by inducing the production of aroma compounds. An example of this is the strong aroma produced when an onion is sliced or diced. Packaging of fresh cut produce also can affect its aroma. The plastics typically used in packaging of fresh-cut produce can slow or enhance aroma loss depending on its chemical properties. Alteration of the oxygen and carbon dioxide in the package atmosphere also may alter the products aroma. Atmosphere alteration can occur as a result of the respiration of the fresh-cut product and the ability of the package to breath. If the atmosphere composition in the package becomes too low in oxygen and/or high in carbon dioxide, this can induce the product to ferment, resulting in off‐odor production. The dynamic nature of fresh-cut produce aroma presents a challenge to design packaging, processing and handling systems to optimize product aroma and flavor throughout market and consumption.

Abstract

© 2016, International Society for Horticultural Science. All rights reserved. The aroma of fresh-cut produce contributes to product quality and 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. The 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 off-odor production. The dynamic nature of aroma presents a challenge to design postharvest systems to optimize product aroma and flavor.

Publication date

2016-10-01

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