Abstract: Flavor release from 6 commercial apple cultivars (Fuji, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Morgen Dallago, and Red Delicious) under static conditions (intact or fresh-cut samples) and during consumption of fresh-cut samples (nosespace) was determined by proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry. Textural (firmness, fracturability, flesh elasticity, and rupture) and physicochemical (pH, acidity, and water content) properties of the apples were also measured. Static headspace analysis of intact fruits revealed Fuji and Granny Smith apples had the lowest concentration for all measured flavor compounds (esters, aldehydes, alcohols, and terpenes), whereas Red Delicious apples had the highest. Fresh-cut samples generally showed a significant increase in total volatile compounds with acetaldehyde being most abundant. However, compared to intact fruits, cut Golden and Red Delicious apples had a lower intensity for ester related peaks. Five parameters were extracted from the nosespace data of peaks related to esters (m/z 43, 61), acetaldehyde (m/z 45), and ethanol (m/z 47): 2 associated with mastication (duration of mastication–tcon; time required for first swallowing event–tswal), and 3 related with in-nose volatile compound concentration (area under the curve–AUC; maximum intensity–Imax; time for achieving Imax–tmax). Three different behaviors were identified in the nosespace data: a) firm samples with low AUC and tswal values (Granny Smith, Fuji), b) mealy samples with high AUC, Imax, tswal values, and low tcon (Morgen Dallago, Golden Delicious), and c) firm samples with high AUC and Imax values (Red Delicious). Strengths and limitations of the methodology are discussed.
Practical Application: Volatile compounds play a fundamental role in the perceived quality of food. Using apple cultivars, this research showed that in vivo proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) could be used to determine the relationship between the release of volatile flavor compounds and the physicochemical parameters of a real food matrix. This finding suggests that in vivo PTR-MS coupled with traditional physicochemical measurements could be used to yield information on flavor release from a wide range of food matrices and help in the development of strategies to enhance food flavor and quality.