The terms ripeness and maturity, when applied to fruit and vegetables, are often difficult to define. They relate to the time at which the commodity is in the appropriate state for harvesting and for eating. Although the extremes of under‐ripeness and over‐ripeness are fairly easily defined, exactly when the ripe state is achieved between these two extremes is to some extent subjective and, in the case of a fruit like the tomato, may depend on the degree of sweetness or acidity an individual may find attractive. In fruit during ripening there is a well coordinated series of changes in the composition of the fruit which lead from the unripe to the ripe condition and which give obvious changes in colour, texture, taste and aroma which are readily perceived by the senses. With vegetables, however, there are no obvious changes of this type and maturity is exceedingly difficult to define. However, there are changes in the chemical and physical structure of vegetables during the maturation period and, although these are of a subtle nature, they can affect the quality of the vegetables as food.
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