Tomatoes (Lycopersicon Esculentum Mill) are well known vegetable that contains vitamins, antioxidants and other health beneficial substances. This study evaluates quality (vitamin C, protein, fat, crude fibre, ash content, moisture content, carbohydrate, weight loss, firmness and antioxidant activity) and shelf- life of tomatoes under refrigerator storage method at 10oC using three maturity stages (breaking stage, pale red stage and light red stage) of ‘Beefmaster HYBRID VFNASt’ tomato varieties cultivated in a greenhouse, harvested and stored for 18 days. The physical qualities were determined during storage whilst antioxidant activity (lycopene and carotenoid concentrations) was evaluated before and after 18 days of storage. The results obtained shows that before storage; tomatoes has high moisture content (95.36%) and protein content (1.04%) at breaking stage, highest value of fat content (0.59%) and crude fibre content (1.13%) was recorded at pale red stage, while the highest ash content (0.43%), carbohydrate (3.17%), carotenoid content (0.3272 mg/g), lycopene content (0.7309 mg/g) and vitamin C content (0.1268 mg/g) was recorded at light red stage. An increase was observed in the antioxidant activities and proximate composition after 18 days of storage. The concentration of vitamin C content of tomato fruit after storage compare with the fresh sample is significantly (p<0.05) depends on maturity stages of the tomato fruit. The highest nutritional value (quality and shelf-life) was recorded for breaking stage. The results obtained also shows that carotenoid and vitamin C contents of the tomato fruits slight increase at the end of the storage period in breaking stage and this increase is significantly depends on maturity stage. It was observed that ripening stage has significant influence on the nutritional values which indicate that the ideal maturity stage to maintain optimal shelf life and nutritional quality is breaking stage of tomato fruit which is the most suitable for storage.
Tomatoes, Maturity stages, Refrigerator system, Shelf life, Quality