The aim of this research was to study the effect of pulsed electric fields (PEF) on the flavour profile of red-fleshed sweet cherries (Prunus avium variety
Stella). The cherry samples were treated at a constant pulse frequency of 100 Hz, a constant pulse width of 20 μs, different electric field strengths between 0.3 and 2.5 kV/cm and specific energy ranging from 31 to 55 kJ/kg. Volatile compounds of samples were analysed using an automated headspace solid phase microextraction (HS–SPME) method coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC–MS). A total of 33 volatile compounds were identified with benzaldehyde, hexanal, (E
)-2-hexen-1-ol, and benzyl alcohol being the predominant volatiles in different PEF-treated samples. Aldehydes namely butanal, octanal, 2-octenal, and nonanal, and (Z
)-2-hexen-1-ol increased significantly 24 h after PEF treatment at electric field strengths of more than 1.0 kV/cm. Samples incubated for 24 h after PEF treatment (S3) generated higher concentrations of volatiles than samples immediately after PEF treatments (S2). Quantitative results revealed that more flavour volatiles were released and associated with S3 samples after 24 h storage and S2 samples immediately after PEF both with the highest electric field intensities. Interestingly, this study found that the PEF treatments at the applied electric field strength and energy did not result in releasing/producing undesirable flavour compounds.
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