Various elderberry (Sambucus sp.) cultivars, including Bob Gordon, Marge, Ocoee, Ozark, Wyldewood, and York, have been selected primarily for plant productivity in North America and are most often processed into juice-based products. This study was conducted to quantify juice characteristics and to evaluate sensory attributes of juice from six elderberry cultivars using descriptive analysis. Hue angle values of ‘Bob Gordon’ and ‘York’ juices were low as compared with others tested. Soluble solids and titratable acidity of juices from ‘Wyldewood’ and ‘York’ were lower than those from other cultivars. Trained panelists identified 24 terms for descriptive analysis of elderberry juices. Of these 24 attributes, juices were highly characterized by a processed aroma, and several flavors, including processed, elderberry, fruity, and sweet. Unique juice descriptors for North American-grown elderberry cultivars included apple, beet, caramelized, fermented, processed, and pomegranate flavors, as well as astringent mouthfeel. Juices from elderberry cultivars differed in intensity ratings of nine attributes, including fruity, floral, sweet aromatics, bitter, sour, and sweet flavors, bitter and sweet aftertastes, and astringent mouthfeel. ‘York’ juice generally had high intensity ratings for sweet aromatics and sweet flavors, and relatively lower ratings for bitter aftertaste and astringent mouthfeel as compared with juices from other cultivars. This study provided key elements for future elderberry sensory research in the development of a formal lexicon for juice with defined attributes.
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