What is the Tomato Brix Rating?
Tuesday, 1 March 2022 | SimplySeed
The Brix Rating is a means for measuring the sweetness or sugar content of honey, wines and fruit juices. In this particular case, the Tomato Brix Rating refers to the sweetness measurement of tomatoes. The measurement is worked out on a scale based on 1 degree Brix, which is equivalent to 1 gram of sucrose per 100 grams of solution. The final measurement is indicated as a percentage and specified in degrees Brix (°Bx). So what does all this mean in laymen’s terms?
Acidity levels of tomatoes
While the Brix rating is used to measure the sweetness of tomatoes, it is also linked to the acidity or pH level, known as the Brix-acid ratio. The pH of tomatoes is usually rated at between 4.3 and 4.9, so there is not a wide range, although all are considered to be quite acidic. However, the sweetness range can vary greatly and sometimes regardless of then acidity level because there are other factors to consider. It is the balance between the sweetness and acidity that gives tomatoes their unique flavour. As a general “rule of thumb” the lower the acidity the sweeter the tomato.
The sweetness or acidy level of tomatoes can depend on several factors including the variety of tomato, the type of soil it has been grown in and the timing of harvesting. When choosing a tomato variety to grow, and if the sweetness level is an important factor then the smaller cherry or plum type of tomatoes will be the best choice. These tomatoes will usually have a Brix rating of between 6 and 10. The higher the Brix rating the sweeter the tomato fruit. Most other tomatoes will fall somewhere between 3.5 and 5.5 on the Brix scale.
Why is the Brix scale so important?
The Brix scale relating to tomatoes is important because inevitably it is a reliable reference to the quality of taste. During the growth period, tomatoes can be tested to determine their Brix level by measuring not only the sugar content of the fruit but also the mineral, protein and amino acid content. This information is useful for tomato plant breeders who strive to create new varieties of plants with a higher Brix rating and therefore better tasting, more nutritious produce.
The Brix rating of tomatoes tells us something about the taste and quality of the fruit. The higher the rating also means the better the taste and quality you can expect. The Brix rating is a good indicator of how long the tomatoes can be preserved alongside other beneficial features such as resistant to insect attacks. Another major benefit of the Brix scale is knowing exactly when would be the best time to harvest, as there is an optimum time period. At the other end of the scale a tomato with a low Brix rating will indicate the fruit has a nutrient deficiency.
Measuring Brix percentage
Anyone interested in knowing the Brix rating of their tomatoes can test them by purchasing a relatively inexpensive Brix specific refractometer. A Brix refractor is a simple to use scientific instrument that measures light refraction. When light enters the solution at an angle, the concentration of dissolved or suspended solids within a solution can be measured. That will provide a visual reading on the instrument, which will correspond to a refractive index. The index has a direct correlation the Brix scale.
Instructions about how to use the instrument together with a refractive index chart are generally supplied when purchased.
Some examples of tomatoes with a high Brix rating include
Micro Tom, Baby Boomer, Losetto and Luciebell. Examples of tomatoes with a lower Brix rating include, Moneymaker, Alicante, Shirley and Beefsteak.
Do you prefer Sweeter or a more traditional Tomato taste? What is your favourite variety? Leave a comment below and let everyone know....
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