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J Agric Food Chem. 2000 May;48(5):1697-702.

Correlation of lycopene measured by HPLC with the L, a, b color readings of a hydroponic tomato and the relationship of maturity with color and lycopene content.

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  • 1Department of Food Science, The Center for Advanced Food Technology, New Jersey-NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 65 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901-8520, USA.


Tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum cv. Laura) were separated, according to the ripening stage, by a sensory panel into seven groups, and color was measured on the tomato surface with a Minolta Chroma meter. The L, a, b, hue, chroma, and lycopene content were plotted against the maturity stages of the tomatoes, and several good correlations were found. The a/b ratio and the lycopene content were the parameters that allowed six of seven maturity groups in the tomato to be statistically distinguished. The lycopene content, measured by HPLC, was also correlated with the color measurements, and the a, a/b, and (a/b)(2) color factors produced the best regressions. An estimation of the lycopene content in tomatoes can be achieved by using a portable chroma meter, with a possible field usage application. Equations to calculate the lycopene content of tomatoes based on the color readings are reported.

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