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Converting tomatoes into Lycopene

Seagate grows and processes our own raw materials into finished products. Once each year, we grow Roma tomatoes on our farm for lycopene production.

Roma tomatoes on the vine

Although we can grow these tomatoes year-round in our location in Baja California, we prefer to do this during the warmer months, between April and October when the tomatoes will quickly ripen. If we attempt this during the Winter, the growing time until harvest can easily double and can be damaged by the occasional storm.

The ripened tomatoes are picked at exactly their peak in color and antioxidant activity.

tomato harvesting

The plastic totes filled with the tomatoes are transported back to Seagate’s factory in Ensenada, which is just over one hour by truck. The tomatoes are immediately prepared for processing by washing off all the dirt and grit from the farm in our stainless steel rotary wash tank.  This tank slowly rotates inside a pool of water allowing the dirt particles to fall through the perforations in the steel and sink to the bottom of the tank.

tomatoes in the rotary wash tank

The cleaned tomatoes are then hand-sorted and collected into large stainless bins.

hand-sorted tomatoes in large bins waiting for processing

The tomatoes are then ground into a paste before the slurry is pumped into one of the Seagate freeze-dryers.

tomato slurry

The freeze-dryers each have a capacity of receiving over 2 tons of tomato paste. Since the tomatoes are mostly composed of water, the process of dehydrating the tomatoes under a deep vacuum at low temperature will result in a very concentrated powder high in lycopene.

Seagate freeze-dryer

Normally this is a two to three day process, to bring the moisture content from 90% to less than 5%.  No chemicals, solvents or other tricks are used to concentrate the tomatoes. The conversion factor is such that one capsule is the equivalent of 1 tomato. The amount of lycopene in 1 capsule as determined by independent labs using HPLC methodology is 15 mg.

Lycopene has many applications including the support of prostate health. However, because of the restrictions placed on a manufacturer we cannot list any medical claims here. We therefore encourage you to search the National Institute of Health’s publication site called PubMed and use their search engine for the latest research and articles on the application and uses of lycopene.

One of the most interesting times to dive is at night. The colors of the fish and the reef are completely different than daytime.  Also, it is a bit more challenging for the diver/photographer to be operating in the dark. Not only do you need a certain level of confidence in your diving skills, but you also have to be very familiar with all the controls on the camera and strobes, so that you can manipulate them by touch rather than by sight. The photo below was taken looking inside a tube coral at night.

Looking into tube coral at night


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