A year-round growing season for Vanguard means constant monitoring of global weather patterns, and diligent examination of the progress of the produce we bring to market. Often, the valuation of a fruit’s flavor is discussed using the term Brix. What does Brix really mean? Is Brix an indicator of quality?
Brix is a scientific term that has been used for centuries. It is a scale of measurement for soluble solids in a liquid (which in the juices of fruits and vegetables, are mostly sugars). The Brix measurement defines the sugar content of a sample. For instance, 20 Brix is approximately equal to 20% sugar.
The sweet spot of growing
In the produce industry it can be helpful to measure Brix during the ripening process to provide an idea of how sweet a selection of fruit is, for instance. The amount of sugar in a fruit increases as it ripens, and as most fruits are finished growing in size by the time they start to ripen, this means that the ratio of sugar to liquid in the fruit increases as ripening takes place.
The development of the fruit sugars depends on many factors such as genetics, seasonal sunlight and temperatures, cultural practices, growing conditions at the planting site, and when the fruit is harvested. Fruit allowed to fully tree-ripen will have higher Brix than fruit picked firm for packing and shipping.
So does higher Brix mean higher quality?
Brix is useful as an indicator of fruit quality, but is not always an indicator of quality of eating. Many fresh-fruit lovers prefer fruits that have a balanced amount of both acid and sugar, rather than excess sweetness, often indicated by a high Brix. Others prefer low-acid fruits, with a high Brix and high level of sweetness being desired. Overripe fruits may have a high brix, but decreased appeal. Therefore, Brix alone is not a measurement or scale of the desirability of the fruit.
Although Brix measurements are possibly most appropriate for monitoring a fruit grower’s process, or for measuring the degree of maturity of the fruit, it may not be a true indicator on if you’d like to eat the fruit. The sugar to acid ratio of a fruit is often a better measure for flavor.