Postharvest Calcium Chloride Dips of Whole Tomato Fruit Reduce Postharvest Decay

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  • 1 Univ. of Florida, Indian River Res. & Ed. Center, Horticultural Sciences Dept., Fort Pierce, FL 34945
  • 2 Univ. of Florida, Indian River Res. & Ed. Center, Horticultural Sciences Dept., Fort Pierce, FL 34945
  • 3 Univ. of Florida, Indian River Res. & Ed. Center, Fort Pierce, FL 34945
  • 4 Univ. of Florida, Indian River Res. & Ed. Center, Fort Pierce, FL 34945

Previous research suggests that treatment of sliced or vacuum-infiltrated tomato fruit with calcium chloride (CaCl2) solutions may reduce decay, but no work on dipping whole tomatoes has been reported. In the present experiments, `FL 47' tomato fruit were collected at the mature green or pink stage from a local packinghouse, held at 12.5 or 25.0 °C overnight, and then dipped in solutions with 0.5% to 5% CaCl2 with or without 150 ppm sodium hypochlorite. Fruit were dipped for 1 to 4 minutes at temperatures ranging from 0 to 35 °C. Mature green fruit dipped in solutions with 0.5% and 1.0% CaCl2 at 35 °C had significantly lower rates of decay following storage at 12.5 °C (90% RH) than the control (27% vs. 36% decay, respectively). These fruit were also significantly softer after 2 weeks of storage than control fruit (0.85 mm vs. 0.74 mm deformation, respectively) and appeared to be slightly more ripe. Decay in fruit dipped in 2% CaCl2 was not significantly different from the control, while fruit dipped in 3% to 5% CaCl2 developed significantly more decay than control fruit. The CaCl2 treatments had no significant effect on decay of fruit treated at the pink stage and none of the treatments at 0 °C significantly affected postharvest decay. Dips in 2% to 5% CaCl2 significantly increased tomato peel calcium content after storage. Dipping time had no significant effect on peel calcium content.

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