Since tomato paste is the main ingredient in the final products, maintaining the quality of the paste is crucial for the tomato processing industry. Factors like the cultivar of the tomato and the processing conditions introduce great variation in the quality of the paste . These variations pose difficulties in achieving a consistent paste quality during production. As a quality control routine, pastes are sampled from each production batch and a range of quality factors are tested; these include color, soluble solids content, pH, acidity and consistency. Because the classification of tomato products, e.g., paste or puree, is done according to its soluble solids content, it is a key characteristic of tomato products. During evaporation, the real-time value of the soluble solids helps to determine the end point of the processing. In addition, the flavor of tomato paste is closely associated with the soluble solids content and titratable acidity.
Among all factors, consistency is a major quality component of tomato paste, sauce and ketchup, determining the rheological properties of the intermediate and final products.
Consistency describes the flow property of non-Newtonian fluids with suspended particles and dissolved long chain molecules. The consistency of the paste is typically evaluated using a consistometer. This empirical method is widely used in the tomato industry, and USDA has established quality standards for tomato products based on the consistency as measured by the consistometer .
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