The best way to preserve tomatoes to reduce post-harvest losses

The best way to preserve tomatoes to reduce post-harvest losses
The best way to preserve tomatoes to reduce post-harvest losses

One of the most well-known and popular fruits and vegetables in the world is the tomato. Growers (whether growing tomatoes in an open field, a low-cover tunnel, or a greenhouse) concentrate on improving some cultivation procedures including sowing, watering, fertilization, and plant protection in order to safeguard and raise the final production of their crop. Although the target fruit yield is frequently obtained in the field, incorrect product handling causes a significant amount of the crop to be lost during storage and transit following the harvest. According to research conducted throughout the world, postharvest losses for tomatoes range from 5-25% in wealthy countries to 20–50% in impoverished areas (Kader et al., 1985, 1992). The product's quality attributes (color, aroma, flavor, firmness, etc.) could be negatively impacted by improper preservation, which would lower the product's final market value. I suggest growers to consider and adhere to the steps-principles discussed below when preserving their product until it reaches the final market in order to reduce these losses and safeguard the quality attributes of tomatoes.

Important advice for preserving tomatoes

How to preserve a lot of food

The fruit must be rapidly pre-cooled (1) to 14 oC (57 oF) and kept chilly throughout the entire process after being harvested.

Produce preservation requires dynamic cooling (2).

As tomatoes are extremely susceptible to ethylene, avoid storing them near foods that create a lot of ethylene, such as apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, etc. To prevent physiological harm to the fruit, the storage temperature should be kept within the prescribed ranges. Tomatoes should generally be stored at 12–14 oC (53–57 oF) and 85% relative humidity. Fruit can be properly preserved in this atmosphere for two to four weeks. When keeping green (but ripe) fruits, farmers occasionally increase the storage temperature to slightly higher levels.

Tomatoes, on the other hand, should never be exposed to temperatures below 8 oC (46.4 oF), as the fruit is prone to chilling and may exhibit signs of physiological freezing (internal crystallization) diseases. Keep in mind that the fruit's storage life will also be influenced by the temperature and stage of ripening. A green tomato, for instance, can be preserved for up to 28 days at 14 oC (57 oF), whereas a ripe red tomato can only be kept for 2-4 days at the same temperature.

I suggest applying ethylene (3) to your tomatoes in specially made chambers by supplying enough ethylene to maintain a steady concentration of 100 to 150 ppm while the procedure is ongoing. You should also control carbon dioxide (CO2) because it will prolong product preservation and preserve product quality.

Tomatoes should be stored based on their lowest natural color and ripeness level. (third green stage of physiological ripeness) and, as previously said, deseed in dynamic desiccators.

Tomatoes must be firm, healthy, and free of any foreign tastes or odors, as well as any healed wounds, rot, and pesticide residue or mold, before they are ready for harvest. Make sure the fruits that have been gathered are free of any disease or insect infestations as well.

Within the chilly room:

At each location in the chamber, cooling should be accomplished by cool air travelling at low speeds and in a laminar flow. This will ensure that the temperature is dispersed evenly.

putting tomatoes in chilly rooms:

In order to accomplish better cooling and allow the passage of cold air, products should be placed in highly well-ventilated packaging (leave gaps of 5 to 10 cm or 2-4 inches between pallets).

The products should fill the refrigerator, allowing space for the air coolers where they should be and a gap of 30 cm (12 inches) on the opposite side.

In order to manage carbon dioxide (CO2), which is heavier than the other gases and fills the lower portions of the refrigeration chamber, the products should be stored in a way that leaves a suitable gap underneath them. Carbon dioxide is heavier than the other gases and takes up the lower portions of the refrigeration chamber (use of palletizers, shelves, pallets, etc.).

Products should be stored such that there are no projections or recesses on the upper side of the storage boxes, which would disrupt the passage of cold air.

To stop the products from freezing, leave a proper space between the ceiling and the top storage level. In refrigerated compartments, the maximum storage height should provide a space from the ceiling that is at least one-tenth the width of the compartment.

Keep infected items away from healthy ones when storing.

The product (as well as the facilities) should be regularly inspected to make sure there are no disease infections or chilling damage, even when the storage conditions are optimal. Remove any fruit that has been damaged and is diseased right away from the batch.

While moving the product, especially across long distances, the aforementioned rules can and should be followed to a considerable extent.

The book "Vegetables Long-Term Preservation: The Secrets" contains more details on how to store and preserve tomatoes properly.

Notes

Pre-cooling is a quick method of taking the heat out of items (usually right after harvest). This heat was produced as a result of the plant's fluctuating respiration as well as the ambient temperature during harvest and storage.

For products that require long-term storage or are extremely delicate, such as pears, kiwis, apples, plums, nectarines, peaches, and apricots, dynamic chilling is a crucial strategy. It is based on ongoing, multi-point control of products that have been stored and refrigeration systems.

To successfully transform the fruit's color from green to pink-red, ethylene treatment relies on maintaining optimal chamber temperature and constant regulation of the ethylene delivery mechanisms (in tomatoes). Other fruits like avocados, kiwis, plums, quinces, lotuses, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and mandarin kumquats are also treated with this method. 

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