Perhaps it is often discussed in others how much worse today’s tomatoes are. So far, the sad phenomenon has generally been attributed to the quality of the land, the way it is produced, the green harvesting, and the appearance of genetically modified varieties, but new research suggests that we may have stored them in the wrong way.
It turns out that tomatoes remain much tastier if we don’t chill them. Let’s see why a drop in temperature causes irreversible damage to the taste of one of our favorite vegetables.
Some foods simply cannot be put in the fridge. Some consumers have long known that refrigeration permanently spoils their taste, but the reasons have been unknown until now.
Experts say new insights into the causes of a previously elusive condition could one day help develop varieties that retain their flavor even when stored cold.
A team led by Harry Klee of the University of Florida, studying the expression of more than 25,000 genes in two varieties of tomatoes, came to terms with the problem. These genes were examined before and during cooling, as well as after returning the tomatoes to room temperature.
Cooling, which puts significant stress on a heat-loving plant like tomatoes, has reduced the activity of hundreds of genes. Some of them produce enzymes that are responsible for synthesizing volatile chemicals that make the tomato taste sweeter and give it a more complex, attractive aroma.
And what is the solution?
The fact that you don’t put it in the fridge for a minute because the situation is unfortunately irreversible. Many enzymes never recovered, even after the tomatoes were at room temperature again. Flavor tests have confirmed that cooling does indeed result in less tasty tomatoes.
HOWEVER, THE SITUATION IS NOT ENTIRELY HOPELESS.
This is because further analyzes have shown that cooling has led to changes in DNA methylation, which has affected many genes. Because methylation is a common mechanism for the long-term on and off of genes, it can have a long-lasting effect on cooling the flavors. The scientific explanation is not useless – thanks to this, we will be able to get tomatoes in the future that we can already store in the fridge without loss of taste.
With this knowledge, growers may be able to make temperature-sensitive enzymes more robust or even select tomato varieties whose gene variants are less damaged by the cold.
The idea is shared by surveyed expert Elizabeth Baldwin, a plant physiologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research laboratory.
“With this knowledge, we could definitely carry out proper, cold-resistant cultivation, or even genetic engineering.”
– summed up the expert, who in the meantime recommends that we buy fewer tomatoes more often and, if possible, do not store them in the refrigerator for a minute.