KCBS_740 SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — It’s a problem that’s plagued us for decades: Why do tomatoes lose their flavor when you put them in the refrigerator? Scientists now have your answer.

It’s all about the aroma compounds.

Tomatoes are basically made up of sugars, acid and aroma compounds.

“The sugars and acids don’t change when you put them in the refrigerator, but you lose all those aroma compounds that give tomatoes that characteristic flavor that really are the essence of tomato flavor,” Denise Tieman, the new study’s co-author and a research associate professor at the Plant Innovation Center at the University of Florida told KCBS.

Tieman says they found changes in the DNA of the tomatoes after a trip into the fridge.

“That causes an irreversible change, so that we can’t make any more of those aroma compounds,” she said.

This leaves the food industry with a conundrum…how do you ship tomatoes and prevent spoilage without refrigeration?  While they ponder that problem, how ‘bout the holy grail of tomato issues?  Why do home-grown tomatoes always taste better?

“We have looked at the aroma compounds in those and found that they have much more of the aroma compounds, and we’re trying to figure out what sort of makes the perfect tomato. What combination of all these compounds makes the best tomato flavor,” Tieman said.


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