Author(s): Bunning ML, Kendall PA, Stone MB, Stonaker FH, Stushnoff C
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Abstract Butterhead, crisphead, green leaf, red leaf, and romaine types of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) are all commonly available in U.S. markets. Sensory properties of lettuce may vary in response to environmental factors that often fluctuate widely throughout the growing season. Bitterness is generally thought to increase in lettuce grown at higher temperatures and may be related to phenolic content. This study evaluated sensory properties and total phenolic content of 5 lettuce cultivars harvested early, midway, and late in the growing season and investigated possible correlations with environmental temperature and light intensity indexes. Thirty panelists rated bitterness, appearance, flavor, texture, and overall acceptability of "Crisp and Green" (green leaf), "Crispino" (crisphead), "Green Forest" (romaine), "Lochness" (butterhead), and "Vulcan" (red leaf) lettuce. There was considerable variation in sensory ratings among the 5 cultivars (P < 0.005) but few differences within cultivars across the growing season. The crisphead cultivar, Crispino, received higher scores (P < 0.01) for flavor, texture, and overall acceptability and was rated less bitter (P < 0.05) than other cultivars. Total phenolic content varied significantly (P < 0.001) among cultivars with the red leaf cultivar, Vulcan, exhibiting the highest levels. There was no correlation between bitterness and total phenolic content or environmental factors. Differences among lettuce cultivars appear to have a larger impact on sensory and phenolic profiles than environmental variation during the growing season.
This article was published in J Food Sci
and referenced in Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences