• aroma;
  • cantaloupe (Cucumis melo L. Naudin);
  • ester;
  • flavor;
  • scanning electron microscopy (SEM);
  • soluble solids;
  • water loss

Abstract:  Previous research examined sanitation treatments on cut cantaloupe tissue to deliver germicidal and food safety effects. However, an apparent compromise between volatile loss and treatment/sampling efficacy appeared. Subsequently, a physiological and volatile reassessment of thinly sliced tissue against cubes was performed in cantaloupe tissue. Thin sliced cantaloupe L* decreased 27.5%, 40.5%, and 52.9% in 3, 2, and 1 mm thickness, respectively, compared with cut cubes after 3 d. Overall color (C) decreased in freshly prepared cubes (2.4%) and slices (14.4%) that were washed in cold water. Surface area per unit volume (SA: vol) in slices was 4.1 times greater than typical cubes, as reflected by substantial water loss (20.4%, 9.5%, and 6.7% in 1, 2 and 3-mm slices, respectively) after 1 d at 5 °C. Rinsing cubes and thin-slices with 5 °C deionized water resulted in roughly 15% soluble solids loss. SEM indicated 65.4% reduced cell size in 1-d old thin slices, evidenced by excessive cell damage and desiccation compared with stored fresh-cut cubes. In thin-sliced tissue exposed 15 min to an open atmosphere (mimic sanitation treatments), total esters decreased 92.8% and 95.8%, respectively, after 1 and 3 d storage at 5 °C. Washing tissue provided a boundary layer that reduced short-term ester losses in slices and cubes. Excessive cutting, sanitation treatment regimes, and storage can radically alter the desirable volatile profile of cut cantaloupe. Reduction of tissue size to maximize food-safety sanitation efficacy or delivering items to a niche market will need substantial work to engineer equipment and develop protocols to insure that product quality and volatiles are not compromised.

Practical Application:  We have demonstrated that cutting method and sampling protocol are critically important when using volatiles as a means by which to assess or interpret stress response and ascribe fresh-cut quality. Reduction of tissue size to maximize food-safety sanitation efficacy (for example, thin slices) will need substantial work to engineer equipment and design protocols to insure product quality and volatile profiles are not compromised.