Loss of crispness in apple fruit during storage reduces the fruit's fresh sensation and consumer acceptance. Apple varieties that maintain crispness thus have higher potential for longer-term consumer appeal. To efficiently phenotype crispness, several instrumental methods have been tested, but variable results were obtained when different apple varieties were assayed. To extend these studies, we assessed the extent to which instrumental measurements correlate to and predict sensory crispness, with a focus on crispness maintenance. We used an apple breeding family derived from a cross between “Honeycrisp” and “MN1764,” which segregates for crispness maintenance. Three types of instrumental measurements (puncture, snapping, and mechanical-acoustic tests) and sensory evaluation were performed on fruit at harvest and after 8 weeks of cold storage. Overall, 20 genotypes from the family and the 2 parents were characterized by 19 force and acoustic measures. In general, crispness was more related to force than to acoustic measures. Force linear distance and maximum force as measured by the mechanical-acoustic test were best correlated with sensory crispness and change in crispness, respectively. The correlations varied by apple genotype. The best multiple linear regression model to predict change in sensory crispness between harvest and storage of fruit of this breeding family incorporated both force and acoustic measures. Practical applications: This work compared the abilities of instrumental tests to predict sensory crispness maintenance of apple fruit. The use of an instrumental method that is highly correlated to sensory crispness evaluation can enhance the efficiency and reduce the cost of measuring crispness for breeding purposes. This study showed that sensory crispness and change in crispness after storage of an apple breeding family were reliably predicted with a combination of instrumental measurements and multiple variable analyses. The strategy potentially can be applied to other apple varieties for more accurate interpretation of crispness maintenance measured instrumentally.
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