Dry Matter Content
The avocado is a climacteric fruit that ripens after it is harvested. The fruit needs to be picked when it is physiologically mature to ensure the avocado will continue to ripen properly. Mature fruit will develop varying tastes depending on the variety. But, if premature fruit is picked, flavor development is hindered.
There are many physical values, such as appearance, ripeness, and color, that can be used to judge if an avocado is mature enough for harvest. However, these are subjective and require experience on the part of growers. Dry matter, which is a precise means of detecting maturity, is more reliable for ensuring that the final taste of the fruit meets consumer quality preferences.
Dry matter is the solid content of the fruit minus the water. Thus, dry matter is all of the carbohydrates, vitamins, proteins, fats, fibers, sugars, etc. found in the fruit. As the avocado grows, its dry matter content also increases. Studies have shown that dry matter has proven to be a reliable indicator of flavor, and by extension, consumer satisfaction as well.
Dry matter is, however, an indirect indicator of maturity in avocados. The development of the fruit can also be tracked by the increase in the oil content of the fruit.
A minimum of 11.2% oil content is considered necessary to declare a fruit mature. The higher the oil content, the better the fruit tastes. Leaving fruit on the tree longer would allow more oil to develop. However, this would leave less time for transport and storage. The oil content of avocados at maturity will depend on cultivars and the region where the fruit is growing.
However, while oil content is a fantastic indicator of maturity, it is not an easy metric to calculate in avocados.
It has been found that as oil content in avocados increases, the water content decreases because oil replaces water in the fruit. As the dry matter is fruit content minus water, it did not long take long before the correlation between oil content and dry matter was established. As oil content increases, the dry matter content increases as well.
Dry matter content of anything above 18% signifies fruit maturity. At 18% the fruit shelf life is at its highest. Shelf life reduces with increasing dry matter content.