Tuesday, June 28, 2011

There's No Substitute for Real Tomatoes (and You Can't Fake Them)

These are from my back yard (so's the basil). They're goooood.
I sat down to eat one of my vine-ripened tomatoes for dinner tonight with the Public Radio story on why tomatoes taste the way they do still ringing in my ears. The story (here) tells us that tomatoes have a number of natural flavor influences (about 15) called "volatiles." These chemicals in the proper balance give us the tomatoes we dream of all year and only get about three months a year (and not often from the grocery store).

Research is centering on trying to find the right balance and infusing those tough hot-house tomatoes that taste like paper with something similar to real flavor. My guess is that it'll never happen, but at least these guys realize there's a problem. According to the story, "The pressure for high-yield plants is responsible for the dismal taste of the supermarket tomato. Harry Klee, a plant biologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, says it's a simple matter of economics.'The grower is paid for size and yield — and flavor is irrelevant, unfortunately,' says Klee."

Irrelevant my butt. That's why we wait so impatiently all year in order to pick one of these tasty beauties from a plant in the back yard. The one I had tonight (with some of Kathy O'Hara's extraordinary baby greens, sheep's milk cheese from Slan, sesame-seaweed and red onions) was simply heaven. You can't do that in a hothouse.

1 comment:

  1. Supermarket tomatoes, yuk! Actually tomatoes were the first thing that began my (slow and incomplete) transition to the 'buy local' concept.