Should tomatoes go in the fridge?

Scientists investigate the influence of storage on the flavor of ripe tomatoes.

A new study investigating the effects of refrigeration on ripe tomatoes found that there is no perceptible difference; however, the variety of tomato is much more essential.

Generally, there are two main options available to consumers: storage in the refrigerator or at room temperature. This new study from the University of Göttingen aims to determine whether there are differences in the flavor of ripe tomatoes depending on how they are stored and taking into account the chain of harvesting from farm to fork.

If we want to know about flavour, the variety of tomato is the most important consideration Photo: Division of Quality of Plant Products, University of Göttingen
If we want to know about flavour, the variety of tomato is the most important consideration Photo: Division of Quality of Plant Products, University of Göttingen

How does the flavor change when ripe, picked tomatoes go through a commercial post-harvest chain? Are they then stored either in the refrigerator (7 degrees Celsius) or at room temperature (20 degrees Celsius)?

Keep your tomatoes in the fridge or in the fruit bowl? The expert panel didn't find a huge difference in flavour. Photo: Division of Quality of Plant Products, University of Göttingen
Keep your tomatoes in the fridge or in the fruit bowl? The expert panel didn’t find a huge difference in flavour. Photo: Division of Quality of Plant Products, University of Göttingen

To figure out the answer, scientists studied flavor-related attributes in new tomato strains drawing on the expertise of a “sensory panel.” The sensory panel comprised of experienced and trained assessors who utilize their senses to see and assess the tangible properties of products. Among different attributes, this panel analyzed the recognizable sweetness, acidity, and juiciness of tomatoes. No huge contrasts in flavor were found between the two storage alternatives when the whole post-harvest chain is considered.

Larissa Kanski, a lead author of the study, said“It is the variety of tomato in particular that has an important influence on the flavor. Therefore, the development of new varieties with an appealing flavor can be a step towards improving the flavor quality of tomatoes.”

Head of Division Professor Elke Pawelzik said, “The shorter the storage period, the better it is for the flavor and related attributes. However, we were able to show that, taking into account the entire post-harvest chain, short-term storage of ripe tomatoes in the refrigerator did not affect the flavor.”

Journal Reference:
  1. Kanski L, Flavor-Related Quality Attributes of Ripe Tomatoes Are Not Significantly Affected Under Two Common Household Conditions. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2020.00472

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