In this study, near infrared spectroscopy has been demonstrated to quickly determine the saponin content in soapnut fruits. Partial least squares analysis combined with pre-processing methods and significance multivariate correlation variable selection was introduced to develop a statistical model calibrated for saponin content in soapnut fruits. The results showed that the first derivative yielded the best partial least squares calibration models with spectra of both the surface of dried fruits and the powder of dry seeded fruits with root mean square error of calibration values of 0.85% and 0.59%, respectively. The surface model presented less accuracy than the powder model. However, when the significance multivariate correlation variable selection method was applied to select the best variables from the spectra, the partial least squares models using spectra of surface and powder samples became similar, with higher R2 values (0.84 and 0.90), lower root mean square error of calibration values of 0.23% and 0.39%. It was suggested that near infrared spectroscopy could be a promising and rapid method for predicting the saponin content in the soapnut fruits without grinding them into powder.
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