• air-drying;
  • antioxidants;
  • lycopene;
  • tomato

ABSTRACT:  Effects of factors such as tomato cultivars, drying temperatures (40, 80, and 120 °C), and drying time (0 to 240 min) on tomato lycopene and the major antioxidant contents (MACs, herein as the sum of total phenolics and total flavonoids) during an air-drying process were investigated. The results showed that lycopene contents increased under all the drying temperatures during the first 60 min. However, the red tomato cultivars, that is, HR, SN, and TTL, exhibited a significant decrease in lycopene contents under 120 °C after drying for 75 min. According to the experimental data, an MAC threshold value of 500 mg/100 g dry matter of tomato is proposed. When the MAC is lower than this value during air-drying, lycopene contents in all tomato cultivars would drop rapidly. In addition, the tomatoes in yellow color group, containing more MACs initially and retaining more MACs under air-drying at 40 to 80 °C, are proposed to be the proper tomato cultivars for thermal processing.