Research Matters - Reducing cracking in cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are susceptible to cracking during storage and can then be infected by Botrytis. In the experiments reported here, cherry tomatoes were picked when red and were then dipped for 10 minutes into a variety of different liquids.

One was water heated to 45 degsC, while another was a two per cent solution of sodium bicarbonate in hot water (45 degsC) and a third was a two per cent solution of sodium bicarbonate at room temperature. All of the fruit was subsequently stored at 20 degsC for six days to simulate a commercial shelf-life.

In a separate experiment, fruit surfaces were sterilised and then wounded (3mm wide by 2mm deep). Spores of Botrytis cinerea were inoculated into the wounds before the fruit were dried and then dipped into the same treatments as before.

Dipping fruit into hot water encouraged skin cracking, but none occurred if the water contained sodium bicarbonate. Furthermore, the fruits that were dipped in hot water containing sodium bicarbonate were firmer than all other fruit after six days of storage.

Finally, if the fruits were inoculated with Botrytis, the extent and incidence of decay could be reduced by dipping the fruit into a sodium bicarbonate solution heated to 45 degsC. Consequently, dipping fruit into a hot solution of sodium bicarbonate after picking may have potential for avoiding surface cracks and maintaining fruit quality in cherry tomatoes.

Effects of Hot Water & Sodium Bicarbonate Treatments, Singly or in Combination, on Cracking, Residual Procymidone Contents & Quality of Mature Red Cherry Tomato Fruit by Shao, Cao and Chen (2012). Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology 87 (2): 89-94. The authors' abstract of their manuscript can be seen in full at

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