UF researchers ID chemicals responsible for sweet strawberries

03/03/2014 11:14:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

click image to zoomFestival strawberry varietyCourtesy University of FloridaKnowing what compounds are responsible for tasty strawberries will help breeders develop even tastier fruit in the future.University of Florida researchers have identified the compounds in strawberries that give the fruit its unique flavor, a finding that will allow breeders to create better tasting berries even faster.

In addition, the naturally occurring compounds could be used in processed foods as a sweetener, reducing sugar and eliminating artificial sweeteners.

The researchers looked at 35 different varieties over two growing seasons. they also conducted extensive biochemical testing and conducted consumer taste testing.

The result was 30 compounds directly tied to strawberry flavors rated high by consumers.

They also identified six volatile compounds that add to humans' perception of fruit sweetness independent of actual sugars in the fruit.

The group published its work in the Feb. 11 issue of the online journal PLoS One.

Those six volatiles add to the growing list of sugar-independent, flavor-enhancing compounds found in fruits, vegetables and herbs that UF researchers are focusing on.

As part of the study, researchers also looked at seasonality and how berry composition was affected by changes in the growing season.

“So when we find these specific volatiles, it will help us produce cultivars that we know have a good chemical profile and should be perceived as much sweeter, with better flavor,” Michael Schwieterman, a postdoctoral researcher and the paper’s lead author, said in the release.

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