Changes in pH, acids, sugars and other quality parameters during extended vine holding of ripe processing tomatoes
BACKGROUND: Two important quality attributes of processing tomatoes are pH and titratable acidity. These and other quality attributes can be affected by tomato fruit maturity and over-maturity. We have determined the magnitude of these maturity effects in four processing tomato cultivars commonly grown in California.
RESULTS: Allowing tomatoes to remain on the vine for up to 4weeks after ripening resulted in an increase in fruit pH of between 0.01 and 0.02 unit per day for the four cultivars examined. The increase in pH was paralleled by a decrease in titratable acidity, due to a loss of citric acid. Glucose and fructose concentrations also declined with increasing maturity after ripening. Other quality parameters (color, lycopene, total pectin, pectin solubility, and Bostwick consistency) all showed little change.
CONCLUSION: Vine holding of ripe fruit adversely affects quality, especially pH and titratable acidity. Recent problems with high tomato juice pH encountered by tomato processors in California could be the result of increased average fruit maturity at harvest.