HUFFINGTON POST
12/13/2011 04:56 pm ET

New Test For Apples Streamlines Science Of Crispness

An apple is only truly good when it has the ultimate crisp -- you want to bite down on it and hear that crunch. Perceived crispness correlates with the eating quality of a given apple. Therefore, when a new apple is introduced to consumers (see: SweeTango), it is tested for ideal crispness before it is put on the market. Usually these tests are done by hiring tasters, and using scientific equipment. The tasters go through a series of tests know as sensory analysis -- a scientific method that can determine a given attribute of a certain food. But now humans may be out of the picture when it comes to a given apple's crispness.

Researchers from the Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center at the Washington State University tested a new fruit pentrometer -- a device that measures a fruit's hardness. The researchers' findings, published in HortTechnology make a case for machines over humans. People, after tasting several apples, can get fatigued. This fatigue can translate into sensory analysis errors. Machines do not make these errors.

Sorry, human apple tasters. You've been replaced by the Mohr Digi-Test (MDT-1). This Digi-Test won't grow tired from testing various apples' firmness, and is apparently way better at its job than you are. The previous industry standard, besides using human tasters, was the Magness-Taylor penetrometer, which, based on these findings, sounds like it may soon be sent to the pentrometer graveyard.

The Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center breeds about 7,500 apples every year.

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