Fruit Ripening Conditions Affect the Quality of Sliced Red Tomatoes
Fresh-cut tomato slices can deteriorate rapidly, with a correspondingly short shelf-life. Almost all research to date has focused on fresh-cut tomato preparation and storage, and little research has considered how postharvest handling of the whole fruit could affect the quality of the prepared fresh-cut product. The quality and shelf-life of slices prepared from ripe tomato fruit (hue angle 43) were evaluated in relation to initial ripening stage (breaker, 10% red, or turning, 30% red) ripening temperature (15, 20, or 25°C) and postharvest treatment with ethylene. Tomatoes ripened at a lower temperature (15°C) had higher fruit firmness, while tomatoes kept at 25°C had lower lycopene content and lower firmness. Juice loss increased during the storage of all slices, and was higher in slices from breaker stage fruit and from fruit treated with ethylene, but was not much affected by fruit ripening temperature. Lycopene content of the slices declined consistently during storage at 5°C. This study clearly showed that full red tomatoes can be a fresh-cut product with good slice integrity and adequate shelf-life (8-11 days at 5°C).The results also emphasize the need to assess postharvest handling protocols specific for fresh-cut tomato processing.