Cheeseburger Science: How Does a Tomato Turn from Green to Red?

Cheeseburger Science: How Does a Tomato Turn from Green to Red?

Alisa Opar
Published: 06/15/2011


 
Ever wonder how tomatoes turn from stone-hard green orbs into plump red yumminess? Or why those supermarket tomatoes look so appetizing, but often taste like cardboard? Or what the connection is between werewolves, the Oracle of Delphi, and our favorite red veggie (er, fruit)? The answer, as the video above explains, is chemistry. When the time is right, the plant produces a hormone called ethylene that triggers the fruit to ripen. No werewolf or oracle spoilers—you'll have to watch the video.

Even if you hated high school science courses, take a nibble of the wonderfully nerdy and campy Cheeseburger Chemistry videos: a six-part series put out by NBC Learn and the National Science Foundation. That’s right, these 5-minute videos break down the chemistry involved in everything from buns to burgers—all the ingredients of the all-American meal. And for dessert? Why the chemistry of chocolate, of course.
 
More videos from this series:
 
Cheeseburger Chemistry: Pickles
The chemistry of preservatives: fermentation, acid and pH.
 
Cheeseburger Chemistry: Condiments
The chemistry of ketchup, mustard and mayo: suspensions, emulsions.
 
Cheeseburger Chemistry: Burgers
The chemistry in cooking meat: protein reactions, Maillard reaction.
 
Cheeseburger Chemistry: Buns
The chemistry of bread: gas and sugar reactions.
 
Cheeseburger Chemistry: Cheese
How chemistry transforms liquid milk into solid cheese: coagulation.

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Food Culture:
Its supporters tout the promise of drought-tolerant corn and less pollution from hog farms. Opponents worry about unforeseen and alarming threats to the environment. Whatever your feelings about the genetic engineering of food, one thing’s for sure: It’s here to stay.
 
Fork in the Road:
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