What makes vegetables tasty? Why are some tomatoes completely tasteless, and others succulent and sweet?
Turns out insecticides and fungicides usurp plant’s natural defences, which means the plant then produces less phytonutrients—amino acids, esters, and flavinoids. Phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and sucrose give vegetables their particular flavour.
Phytonutrients are chemicals produced by plants to stay healthy, eg. protect plants from insect attacks, or radiation from UV rays.
In Dan Barber’s book “The Third Plate” the michelin star chef is searching for the perfect prdouce. He uses a brix refractometer to measure the amount of sucrose in his carrots. The refractometer reads a 16.9 Brix, he explains that this “means that the carrots were 16.9 % sucrose and bursting with minerals”.
Meanwhile, landmark studies in both the UK and the USA have shown that soil degradation due to industrial farming has been depleting our once nutrient-rich soil of minerals and vitamins. Apparently, to gain the same amount of vitamin A from an orange as our grandparents would have, you would need to eat eight oranges today.
So what is a brix refractometer?
A brix refractometer measures the sucrose, vitamin, amino acids, and mineral percentage of the crop or food.
How does it work?
Brix is a scale that measures the amount of light that bends when it passes through a fluid. It has become the best available tool to determine the quality of produce. Studies have shown that crops with 12 or higher brix will not be bothered by pests.