Hot-water treatment works against chilling injury symptoms in fresh tomatoes

Reducing the negative effects of chilling injury (CI) in tomatoes after harvest is fundamental to ensure good quality and to minimize losses. CI is a postharvest disorder associated with the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the fruit. Therefore, antioxidant accumulation can counteract ROS, alleviating CI symptoms. In this sense, a study of the scientists at University of Florida in Gainesville (USA) has confirmed that a brief hot-water (HW) immersion promotes the synthesis of antioxidants.

The scientists have found that HW treatment at 52°C for 5 min significantly reduced chilling‐associated decay, from 66.7% to 17.2% in breaker turning (BT) and from 55.8% to 9.8% in mature green (MG) ‘BHN‐602’ tomatoes stored at 5°C for 2 weeks and from 26.7% to 6.7% in BT tomatoes stored at 5°C for 1 week.

Furthermore, HW treatment significantly increased lycopene content by 17% in BT tomatoes stored at 5°C for 2 weeks, as well as ascorbic acid by 11%, lipophilic phenolics by 18% and total phenolics by 6.5% in BT tomatoes stored at 12.5°C for 1 week. Despite the increase of antioxidants, HW treatment did not enhance the sensory aromatic profile, color and antioxidant capacity. Interestingly, HW treatment reduced ripening time by 3 days in MG tomatoes stored at 5°C for 2 weeks or at 12.5°C for 1 week.

"Hot-water treatment applied to MG or BT ‘BHN‐602’ tomatoes can alleviate the development of some CI symptoms, particularly decay, possibly by increasing antioxidants that scavenge ROS", the scientists underline.

Source: Loayza Francisco E., Brecht Jeffrey K., Simonne Amarat H., Plotto Anne, Baldwin Elizabeth A., Bai Jinhe, Lon-Kan Elena, 'A brief hot-water treatment alleviates chilling injury symptoms in fresh tomatoes', 2021, Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Vol. 101 (1), pag. 54-64.


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