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The Return of the Tasty Tomato

For most of us, a tasty supermarket tomato is an oxymoron.

The reign of the tasteless supermarket tomato may be coming to an end thanks to genius/horticultural scientist Professor Harry J. Klee.  Klee has developed a hybrid breed that will restore the flavour and keep the traits that growers need to supply a tasty supermarket tomato.

Over the last 50 years, magical tomato flavour has been removed by farmers in need of large tomatoes to max out on being paid by the pound.  The cost of meeting that demand?  Blandness.

After years of work, Dr. Klee and his colleagues have not only identified the flavour chemicals deficient in modern tomatoes, but they’ve also located the genes that produce them via heirlooms and wild tomatoes.

This great news is made even better by the fact that traditional breeding and not genetic engineering is being used to make tomatoes tasty again.

“I don’t want people to not eat a great-tasting tomato because they’re scared of it,” Dr. Klee said.

The magical chemistry that is great tomato flavour is a mix of sugars (we love a sweet tomato), acids and something called volatile chemicals — the flavour compounds that waft into the air carrying the fruit’s aroma.

Restoring the “good” versions of the genes won’t affect the traits that growers demand,  meaning that buying tasty supermarket tomatoes may be in your future.

But is it too late?  In a recent tasting panel, some younger people chose the flavour of the existing supermarket tomatoes as their favourite.

“That bothers me a lot,” Dr. Klee said. “Have we trained a whole generation that doesn’t know what a good tomato is?”

Photo + Story Via New York Times

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