A propagation programme for peaches and nectarines has been targeted to select genotypes having taste attributes such as high sugar levels and well-balanced sugar/acid ratios. The analytical measurements of some soluble sugars and nonvolatile acids were carried out using innovative analytical procedures based on fast and selective devices which require very little or no sample pre-treatment whatsoever. These devices have found a unique application in detecting fructose, glucose and malic acid for the improvement of fruit genetics. The present study examines relationships between the analytical measurements of sugars and non-volatile acids and the sensory attributes (sweetness and sourness) of 21 peach and nectarine cultivars. Certain chemical parameters were correlated with the organoleptic acceptance of common commercial cultivars and recently introduced high and low-acid genotypes. Multivariate statistical analyses were found to be useful in describing the variability of the chemical and sensory parameters which characterise peach quality, as they enabled the identification of sets of variables that could be used to classify peaches and nectarines into high and low-acid categories. Malic and citric acids, minor components of these fruits, were important taste attributes as they contributed to the sensory perception of sourness. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science Ltd.
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