The typical supermarket tomato: ripe red, firm to the touch, free of blemishes—and of flavor. Since at least the 1970s, U.S. consumers have lamented the beautiful but bland fruits that farmers breed not for taste, but rather for high yield and durability during shipping. Recently, organic farmers and foodies have championed the superior flavors of heirloom tomatoes—older varieties that come in an assortment of shapes, sizes and colors. In a new study, researchers took a close look at the chemical composition of both standard tomatoes and hundreds of different heirloom varieties, which they also fed to 170 volunteers in a taste test. Their new findings confirm what scientists have learned in recent years: a tomato's flavor depends not only on the balance of sugars and acids within the fruit, but also on subtle aromatic compounds—many of which are lacking in the modern supermarket tomato. [MORE]
For more on good and bad taste perceptions some have of tomatoes and other culinary vegetables, read Taster’s Choice: Why I Hate Raw Tomatoes and You Don’t.