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The break stage in tomato paste production
Jan 18, 2019

The "break" is a very important stage. This is where the tomatoes are heated very rapidly. Tomato paste can either be processed as hot break or cold break. Hot break tomato paste preserves viscosity or "thickness", but at a slight cost of flavor. Cold break paste preserves virtually all the flavor, but at the cost of viscosity. Why? it has to do with enzymes: polymethylesterase, polygalacturonase, and lipoxygenase. Polymethylesterase and polygalacturonase act to break down a chemical called pectin. Pectin is a naturally occurring compound that binds the cells of a tomato together. In the hot break process (hot break refers to heating the tomatoes to approximately 210 degrees F), these "pectic enzymes" are inactivated, inhibiting the breakdown of pectin, creating a more viscous product. However, the enzyme lipoxygenase (vital to flavor) is also inactivated in the hot break process. In cold break tomato paste (heated to approximately 150 degrees F), lipoxygenase "survives," while polymethylesterase and polygalacturonase are not inactivated--bad for viscosity, but good for flavor. Essentially, the "break" is a large cooker, where tomatoes are heated to a closely-monitored temperature.