Scientists Say They've Unlocked the Chilling Effect the Fridge Has on Tomatoes' Taste - NBC Southern California
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Scientists Say They've Unlocked the Chilling Effect the Fridge Has on Tomatoes' Taste

The study opens up the possibility of breeding tomatoes that stay fresh-tasting in the fridge

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Scientists Say They've Unlocked the Chilling Effect the Fridge Has on Tomatoes' Taste
    Getty Images, File
    Tomatoes are displayed inside at the London Harvest Festival Show on October 7, 2014.

    If you buy tomatoes from John Banscher at his farmstand in New Jersey, he'll recommend keeping them out of the fridge or they'll lose some of their taste.

    Now scientists have figured out why: It's because some of their genes chill out, says a study that may help solve that problem.

    Cooling tomatoes below 54 degrees stops them from making some of the substances that contribute to their taste, according to researchers who dug into the genetic roots of the problem.

    That robs the fruit of flavor, whether it happens in a home refrigerator or in cold storage before the produce reaches the grocery shelf, they said.

    Catastrophic Damage in Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria

    [NATL] Catastrophic Damage in Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria Pounds the Island

    Hurricane Maria caused widespread flooding and damage after pounding Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm. Rescue crews have fanned out across the U.S. territory as it tries to rebuild amid an economic crisis.

    (Published 6 hours ago)

    With the new detailed knowledge of how that happens, "maybe we can breed tomatoes to change that," said researcher Denise Tieman of the University of Florida in Gainesville.

    She and colleagues there, in China and at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, report their findings in a paper published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    They showed that after seven days of storage at 39 degrees, tomatoes lost some of their supply of substances that produce their characteristic aroma, which is a key part of their flavor. Three days of sitting at room temperature didn't remedy that, and a taste test by 76 people confirmed the chilled tomatoes weren't as good as fresh fruit.

    Tomatoes stored for just one or three days didn't lose their aroma substances.

    Further research showed that the prolonged chilling reduced the activity of certain genes that make those compounds, Tieman said.

    Her lab is already looking into the possibility of breeding tomatoes that don't lose flavor in the cold, she said.

    Irma Triggers Florida Sinkholes

    [NATL] Irma Triggers Florida Sinkholes

    Part of an Apopka, Florida home is still standing after a sinkhole opened beneath it earlier this week. Dr. Manoj Chopra of the University of Central Florida says water from Hurricane Irma helped create the sinkhole.

    (Published Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017)

    In the meantime, "Just leave them out on the counter, or leave them in a shaded area, something like that," said Banscher, whose farm is in Gloucester County. "A tomato has a decent shelf life."