Science Confirmed: Tomatoes Lose Their Flavor When Refrigerated -- Here's Why
A new study revealed that keeping tomatoes in the refrigerator may alter some of its substance that could result to reduction of taste and flavor.
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that storing tomatoes below 12 degrees Celsius could turn-off specific flavor-associated volatiles or also known as aroma compounds.
"Basically, the tomato gets cold and tells itself to stop making these aroma compounds," explained Denise Tieman, a research associate professor at the Plant Innovation Center at the University of Florida in Gainesville, in a report from Los Angeles Times. "Aroma compounds are what you smell, and they make up the wonderful part of the flavor. The sugars and acids are what you taste on the tongue, but there would be no excitement to the flavor without the aroma compounds."
For the study, the researchers analyzed tomatoes that have been chilled for one, three and seven days and a freshly picked tomato to serve as control. The researchers discovered that tomatoes left to chill for seven days have the least number of aroma compounds compared to the fresh tomato. Tomatoes that were left in the fridge for three days still experience significant reduction in their aroma compounds.
To test out if the reduction of aroma compounds affected the overall taste of tomatoes, the researchers conducted a blind taste test. In the taste test, participants gave higher rating to the freshly picked tomatoes, reporting that the chilled tomatoes are less tasty than the fresh ones.
Digging deeper into the genetic mechanisms at play, the researchers discovered that cold temperatures actually turned off specific genes that are responsible for producing the aroma compounds. Due to the reduction of the aroma compounds, tomatoes lose some of their taste.
With their findings, the researchers are advising consumers to think twice before putting tomatoes to their coolers. Furthermore, the researchers are now trying to come up ways to keep the flavor-associated genes turned on even when the tomatoes are refrigerated.