The right light for fruit taste, smell and value
The research hopes to control the volatile compounds found in high-value foods such as tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries and petunias, using various wavelengths of narrow bandwidth LED light.
The study published in the Postharvest Biology and Technology journal found an increase in floral volatile 2-phenylethanol in petunias exposed to red and far-red treatments.
When repeated on tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries, flavor volatiles experienced statistically significant changes.
The next step will be determining if consumers can taste the difference in light-treated fruit. The team will collaborate with UF professor and taste expert Linda Bartoshuk in a National Institutes of Health-funded study.
The technology is expected for use in grocery stores, greenhouses and in postharvest handling. Researcher Kevin Folta said it also has possibilities for home usage.
"You might even see it used in your refrigerator – instead of you closing the door and the light goes out, you’ll close the door and the light goes on," said the chairman of UF's horticultural sciences department.
"And it’ll all happen in a way that positively influences the flavor profiles of food."
Photo: Kevin Folta examines plants growing under LED lighting, by Josh Wickham from University of Florida