Effects of Aloe Vera in the Shelf-Life and Firmness of Tomatoes

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CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
Tomato is a very significant ingredient to Filipino cuisines thus it is produced widely in the Philippines. Tomatoes rank second to aubergine in the aspect of food production. Dejectedly, the production of fruits in the Philippines is below average level due to the damages caused by various insects and viruses. The infections of these pests cause a yield reduction of 50% to 100% which threatens the livelihood of the small scale farmers of tomatoes. Aside from pests, the environmental conditions also affect the tomatoes. Heat and moisture cause rapid spoilage among tomatoes. Extreme moisture conditions can cause the cracking of the skin of a healthy tomato fruit. Intense heat applied to tomatoes may result to the rapid ripening and softening of the crop. Furthermore, the juices inside the tomato may dry-up causing its weight to be lighter. The effects of extreme heat and moisture are very visible to the locally distributed tomatoes. In the process of distribution, the packaging of the tomatoes is not very convenient. It is then exposed to the erratic conditions of the environment which may lead to the brisk spoilage of tomatoes. Such circumstances are not favored by most consumers causing the tomatoes to necessitate preservation. In preserving these crops, farmers often use chemical-based preservatives because these are cheap and are proven effective. However, the quality and nutritional value of the tomatoes are sacrificed which make them undesirable. The result of the process is not wanted by the tomato consumers.Could there be other preservative that is cheap, natural and effective in firming and prolonging the shelf-life of tomatoes?

BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The Philippines at present produces many different kinds of agricultural and beneficial plant. Among the various crops produced, the researchers have chosen to use tomato and aloe vera in the study.

In the field of agricultural crops, the tomato is the most popular of all. It only has achieved its tremendous popularity over the last century. It is first cultivated by the Aztecs and Mayans in the 700 A.D.It is commonly grown in every country especially those in tropical regions. It has been an ingredient to almost all savory Filipino cuisines. Aside from being tasty, tomatoes are very healthy as they are a good source of lycopene, vitamins A and C The world is producing more than 60 million tons of tomatoes per year. The production of tomatoes created a large industry of canning and exporting. In effect, farmers worldwide are engaged in cultivating this crop. Consequently, the worldwide production of tomatoes and consumption has grown quite rapidly for over 25 years. On the other hand, aloe vera(Aloe barbadensis) is a plant grown in tropical countries such as the Philippines. It is known to have two major liquid sources: The yellow latex (exudate) and the clear extract (mucilage). The aloe vera mucilage serves as a natural barrier against moisture and oxygen during processing, handling and storage and do not only retard food deterioration but also enhance its safety due to their natural biocide activity or the incorpulation of antimicrobial compounds. Because the clear extract from aloe vera can retard food deterioration and it has no chemical components that may deficiently affect the shelf-life of the food, it can be applied to fresh produce such as tomatoes to potentially delay its spoilage and to lengthen its firmness. The aloe vera gel extract contains components that are necessary and obliging for lengthening the shelf-life of tomatoes. Subsequently, it could make noteworthy effects to the tomato-consuming community because it could maintain the firmness of tomatoes. Therefore, the researchers are interested in determining the effectiveness of the aloe vera extract to the firmness and shelf-life of tomatoes.

Significance of the Study

Since tomatoes on shelves and in refrigerators have an estimated twenty...
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