Mature green `Sunbeam' tomato fruit (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) were treated in water for 1 hr at 27 (ambient), 39, 42, 45, or 48°C, and then either ripened at 20°C (nonchilled) or stored at 2°C (chilled) for 14 days before ripening at 20°C. The most-effective heat treatment was 42°C, which reduced decay 67% in chilled fruit and 53% in nonchilled fruit. Heat treatment had no effect on time required to ripen the fruit. Red-ripe tomatoes had higher respiration rates and evolved more ethylene following nonchilling storage, but heat treatment had no effect on respiration or ethylene evolution. Red color development was enhanced by heat treatment, and inhibited by chilling. At red ripe, fruit were firmer as a result of storage at the chilling temperature, while heat treatment had no effect on firmness. Heat-treated fruit were preferred in terms of taste and texture over nontreated fruit in informal taste tests, with the exception of the 45°C treatment. With increasing temperature of heat treatment, there was increased electrolyte leakage following chilling storage. Of the 15 flavor volatiles analyzed, the levels of five were decreased with increasing temperature of heat treatment. Storage at the chilling temperature reduced the levels of six flavor volatiles. Prestorage heat treatments can reduce decay with only minimal adverse effects on tomato fruit quality.
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