Seed World

Tasting a Tomato Without Destroying It

One of the most important properties of a fresh tomato is its taste. But how do you quantify taste? Breeders are very interested in that question. For the answer the taste model of Wageningen University & Research (WUR) or a taste panel can be used. The Greenhouse Horticulture Business Unit at WUR is investigating whether it is possible to map the taste remotely with a camera.

The Fresh on Demand project is working on quality improvement in the fruit and vegetable chain, in order to better meet the wishes of consumers. Taste is an important variable. There are roughly three options for measuring this: in addition to the taste model and a taste panel, these are sensors. They can, for example, measure the brix content (the amount of dissolved sugars) and the acid content in a tomato. The problem with this is that the tomato must be crushed for these sensors. A shame about the tomato, but also time-consuming and labor-intensive.

WUR is investigating whether it is possible to measure the taste of a tomato with non-destructive sensors. Two methods are being investigated this: hyperspectral cameras (that take a photo) and spectrophotometers (that take a point measurement).

The results of both methods are compared with the results of destructive sensors (which measure crushed tomatoes) and those of the taste panel. This shows what the light spectrum of the tomato can tell about the taste. That knowledge can then be entered into WUR’s taste model to be able to easily measure taste in the future.