Scientists figure out why tomatoes stored in fridge lose their taste

tomatoes stored in fridge lose their taste

If you like tomatoes, you may notice that if you put them in fridge for storage, they’ll lose some of their taste.

In a recent study, scientists have figured out why: it’s because some of their genes chill out. Researchers also provide solutions to solve the problem. The finding is newly published in PNAS.

The study was conducted by University of Florida, Zhejiang University, Cornell University and US Department of Agriculture.

Flavor-associated volatiles are sensitive to temperatures below 54 degrees (12 °C). The loss of these volatiles greatly reduces flavor quality. In this case, cooling tomatoes below 54 degrees stops tomatoes from making some of the substances that contribute to their taste.

In the study, they stored tomatoes for 7 days at 39 degrees. The result showed that tomatoes lost some of their supply of substances that produce their characteristic aroma, which is a key part of their flavor. 3 days of sitting at room temperature didn’t remedy that. 76 people in a taste test confirmed that the chilled tomatoes weren’t as good as fresh ones.

Further analyses showed that the prolonged chilling reduced the activity of certain genes in tomatoes that make those compounds.

Researchers suggest that tomatoes stored for just 1-3 days do not lose their aroma substances. The best way to store them is just to leave them out on the counter or leave them in a shaded area.

Citation: Zhang B, et al. (2016). Chilling-induced tomato flavor loss is associated with altered volatile synthesis and transient changes in DNA methylation. PNAS, published online. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1613910113.
Figure legend: This image is for illustrative purposes only.