Washington, Mar 31 : An electronic nose method has been developed which is useful in evaluating ripeness and flavour in fruits like melon.
Researchers from the University of California, Davis, are working on a project that is a part of the Specialty Crops Research Initiative, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture.
It was "established to solve critical industry issues through research and extension activities".
"We are involved in a project geared towards developing rapid methods to evaluate ripeness and flavour of fruits," said the author of the research paper, Dr Florence Negre-Zkharov.
"We evaluated an electronic nose to see if it can differentiate maturity of fruit, specifically melons. The goal is to develop a tool that can be used post-harvest to better evaluate produce, and develop better breeds," she said.
When fruit ripens, it develops a characteristic volatile blend, indicating its maturity. Traditionally, the gold-standard of evaluating these volatiles has been gas chromatography, but it takes up to an hour to analyse a single sample, which makes it impractical to use outside the lab. Dr Negre-Zakharov and her team wanted to determine if the much cruder - but much faster - electronic nose was able to determine if the melon they used in the experiment were ripe. It was.
They are working on quantitative methods of evaluating fruit-ripeness in the hopes that it will help the industry produce better quality produce.
"It's quite encouraging technology for the purposes of determining maturity," she said.
The next step is to take the electronic nose out into the field to see if it can still determine fruit maturity with all of the background smells interfering - like soil and air-quality. Though the team has already tested the device in the field, they have not yet analysed their results.
The research was published in the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) and a video of the electronic nose method was also put up on its site. (ANI)