Red sweet peppers held in cold storage were periodically sampled at 1-week intervals over a 3-weeks period using three-point bending, puncture, cutting, and Volodkevich (coupled with acoustic emission) tests, confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and other physicochemical measurements. At each sampling, tissue specimens were soaked in mannitol solutions (0.0-0.9M) and puncture test, dimension changes and CLSM were used to identify degrees of turgidity present in osmotically manipulated pepper tissue. Pepper texture became crumbly with increased storage time due to softening and wilting processes. The Young's modulus, derived from the bending test using the single-edge notched bend geometry without notches decreased progressively during cold storage and resulted as the best mechanical parameter for measuring the loss of whole-tissue stiffness by both decreased cell wall stiffness and turgor pressure. Osmotic adjustment indicated that the pepper structure is extremely anisotropic, with the specimen's "average" relative thickness (RT) being the dimension change more affected. Incipient plasmolysis was evident in the highest mannitol concentration (0.9M), therefore, the turgor pressure of nonsoaked tissue could not be inferred. However, significant correlations were found between RT and puncture parameters such as initial slope, initial and final distances, and the number of flesh and skin force peaks, which depended on the dilation or shrinkage caused by the osmotic adjustment. During storage, soaked tissues had lower crunchy texture than nonsoaked, reflecting that cell wall stiffness plays a more significant role in determining pepper crunchiness than cell turgor pressure.
Keywords: anisotropic structure; crunchiness; red pepper texture; storage time; three-point bending test; turgor pressure.
© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.