New York: Studies have shown that the familiar fresh aroma of tomatoes has diminished during the last 50 years - and less fresh tomato aroma is leading to more consumer complaints.
Aroma, which is produced by a complex mixture of volatile compounds, plays an important role in consumers' perceptions of fresh fruits and vegetables.
According to the researchers not only do pre and post-production practices such as time of harvest, use of plant growth regulators and storage temperature/atmosphere affect tomato aroma, common kitchen practices such as refrigeration and blanching are also detrimental.
"The previous two publications addressed how hot water and methyl salicylate pre-treatments alleviate chilling induced volatile loss," said lead author Jinhe Bai from the US department of agriculture.
"In this study, we focused on the consumer-end temperature control to provide consumers with information on how their kitchen practices influence tomato flavour quality," Bai added.
For the study, scientists used ripe red tomatoes divided into three treatments: refrigerated at five degree Celsius for four days, kept at 20 degree Celsius for four days and then dipped in 50 degree Celsius hot water for five minutes (blanched), and the untreated control, continuously kept at 20 degree Celsius for four days.
They noted that low temperature storage resulted in a more severe impact on tomato aroma than hot water blanching.
"Storage of (tomato) fruit in a refrigerator or a short blanching for sanitation substantially influenced volatile profile and reduced key tomato aroma contributors," the researchers explained.
The study was published in HortScience.