Improving the quality of fresh-cut fruit

Friday, 10 August, 2018

Improving the quality of fresh-cut fruit

Cutting up fruit into smaller portions is a more portable and convenient option for both children’s lunchboxes and on-the-go adults. But fruits such as watermelons are not always easy to cut, which is why ‘fresh cut’ portions can be more appealing.

Michelle Louise Mendoza-Enano, a PhD candidate of the ARC Training Centre for Innovative Horticultural Product and University of Tasmania, is analysing how to improve the sensory experiences of cubed watermelon.

Consumer surveys of 410 people aged 18–67 conducted in Woolworths stores in Sydney looked at people’s perceptions of fresh-cut watermelon sold in supermarkets and found that maintaining freshness was most important to consumers. But how do you keep it fresh and juicy during handling and distribution?

Mendoza-Enano is looking into packaging conditions with Perfection Fresh that will help improve the quality and shelf life of fresh-cut fruit.

She is using proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometry (PTR-MS), which can sample the volatile flavours and measure changes between freshly cut fruits and stored fruits in seconds.

Working with Dr Damian Frank of CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Mendoza-Enano is using this technology to cross-check the fruit’s chemical composition with perceived freshness.

Another Training Centre PhD candidate, Yan Lee, is conducting similar research with industry partner Perfection Fresh to extend the shelf life of fresh-cut fruit using low concentrations of ethylene.

Top image: Michelle Mendoza-Enano tests packaging for fresh-cut watermelon at Perfection Fresh. Source: ARC Training Centre for Innovative Horticultural Products.

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