Searching for chemical and sensory parameters for flavor enhancement in strawberry breeding
Most of the modern strawberry cultivars were bred for size, color, shelf-life, and disease resistance. In parallel, they lost some of their unique flavor. Combining beneficial agronomical traits with a pleasant flavor is a challenge for plant breeders. Until now, however, no generally accepted standard for the ‘ideal’ strawberry exists, neither for a profile of sensory attributes nor for the metabolite pattern. In this study, sensory characteristics and acceptance were determined by a consumer panel in three different harvest years. The sensory data were correlated with instrumental data that comprised VOC patterns, brix value and titratable acids. Altogether, 19 cultivars and breeding clones were included in the consumer study. On the basis of a correlation analysis between instrumental and sensory parameters, hints for an analytically directed flavor selection were derived. However, because of complex interactions between non-volatile and/or volatile metabolites, e.g., between lactones and sweet taste, the results of instrumental methods like GC and aggregate parameters have only a limited ability to mimic sensory attributes and especially hedonic characters. Therefore, a sensory method adapted for selections, beside a reliable instrumental analysis, is essential for flavor breeding programs in strawberry.