Garden egg also known as African eggplant is one of the most important vegetables that is widely cultivated across the African continent especially in West and East Africa. Sensory evaluation of the eggplant fruits as a selection tool for eggplant breeding was carried out at the Crop physiology laboratory of the Department of Crop Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria. Four cultivars of eggplant, namely: Pink lady, Asa Campus, White green label and Ngwa local were collected from the Department of Crop Science Farm and Nsukka main market. Samples of egg plant fruits were prepared. A nine-member panel of judges was constituted from academic staff and postgraduate students of the Department of Crop Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka who are regular consumers of eggplants. Each member was provided with questionnaires for both objective and subjective sensory evaluations. The objective evaluation (overall assessment) enabled each judge to describe the products while the subjective evaluation (scoring) requested them to give information on the degree of like or dislike of the products. Among the objective sensory variables, colour accounted for over 60% of the total variation. Glossy appearance, taste and texture made significant but much smaller contributions to the total variation. Glossy appearance, flavour and taste were positively related to the general acceptability of the evaluated cultivars. The scatter plots re-affirmed that texture bore little or no relation to the general acceptability for all the eggplant. Sensory evaluation can be a valuable addition to the breeder’s selection criteria.
Key words: African eggplant, Solanum aethiopicum, sensory evaluation, fruit quality, colour, taste, flavour, texture, glossiness.
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