Assignment of distinctive volatiles, descriptive sensory analysis and consumer preference of differently ripened and post-harvest handled pineapple (Ananas comosus [L.] Merr.) fruits
Volatiles of differently ripened fresh pineapples were investigated by a non-targeted profiling analysis comparing fruits harvested at full maturity exported by rapid air freight to pineapples harvested at an earlier green-ripe stage. The latter fruits were exported by sea freight and analysed upon arrival at their destination and after post-harvest flavour genesis. Volatiles were analysed by headspace solid-phase microextraction, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and multivariate statistical data analysis. Clear-cut differences in the volatile profiles were found. Fully ripe air-freighted pineapples were characterised by elevated concentrations of two 1,3,5,8-undecatetraene isomers, methyl 3-methylbutanoate and 4-methoxy-2,5-dimethyl-3(2H)-furanone, which have been reported as potent contributors to the pineapple flavour. Compared to fully ripened fruits, development of volatiles of sea-freighted pineapples upon arrival in Europe was rudimentary. Post-harvest storage of sea-freighted pineapples resulted in a different volatile profile due to the genesis of hydroxylated and acetoxylated methyl esters and hexanal. Subsequent descriptive sensory analysis was performed by trained panellists comparing retronasal odour and taste profiles. Fully ripe fruits were characterised by a pineapple-like note, fruity flavours and a sweet taste. In contrast, most of these attributes were rated at lower intensities when premature green-ripe fruits were tested. At the end of the post-harvest period, sea-freighted pineapples were characterised by fruity notes accompanied by a musty/corky- and cardboard-like off-flavour. Odour, taste and overall preference were significantly higher rated for air-freighted pineapples as revealed by an untrained consumer panel.