BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to extract a sorting rule for Tarocco orange fruit from several physicochemical and sensory tests performed on a marketable lot of 399 Tarocco orange fruits.
RESULTS: The elastic tension at 5% strain (T5) was found to be linearly correlated (r = 0.65) with the Magness–Taylor (MT) index. Thus T5 was regarded as a non-destructive parameter quantifying fruit firmness and used to categorise the aforementioned lot in three different firmness classes, high (HF), medium (MF) and low (LF). Only the MT index, fruit rind thickness near the fruit peduncle, lightness coefficient and yellow/blue hue component of the orange flesh, as well as total soluble solid content, confirmed the validity of this discrimination at the significance level of 5%. Sensory professionals recognised the greater compactness (7 ± 2) but lower ease of peeling (4 ± 2) and segment separation (4 ± 2) of the HF oranges with respect to the corresponding sensory attributes of orange fruits grouped in the MF and LF classes.
CONCLUSION: To limit the costly rejection of Tarocco orange fruit considered too soft, especially after long-term shipping, it would be reasonable to select only fruits characterised by a compressive force or tension at 5% strain in the range 23–41 N or 300–540 N m−1 respectively. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry