Study: Light can enhance produce taste, aroma

07/23/2013 09:50:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Courtesy University of FloridaKevin Folta, an assistant professor of horticultural sciences at the University of Florida, examines arabidopsis plants growing under a bank of LED lights. Many growers and researchers have long known that light can enhance the exterior color of fruits and vegetables.

That's why some growers have taken to laying metalized plastic under fruit trees.

But now researchers have found that various light wavelengths can change the aroma and taste in several crops, including tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries, according to a news release.

Their findings could eventually be used to enhance the nutritional qualifies of fruits and vegetables.

A University of Florida group led by Thomas Colquhoun, an assistant professor in environmental horticulture, exposed petunia cuttings to LED light at different wavelengths.

They found that a floral volatile increased when the plant was exposed to red and far-red light.

They then conducted similar tests on tomatoes, strawberries ane blueberries, and found that flavor volatiles could be manipulated with light.

Blueberry volatiles changed the least, but were still statistically significant.

The group is now working with UF dentistry professor and taste expert Linda Bartoshuk on a study that will test whether consumers can taste differences in light-treated fruit.

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