If you’ve ever grown your own tomatoes, you’ve probably realized the supermarket equivalent isn’t nearly as delicious. A group of US scientists have set out to solve the dilemma, leading to a discovery of what exactly it takes to harvest a delicious, flavor-filled tomato.
University of Florida scientists examined 152 varieties of tomatoes, publishing the results in the journal Current Biology. They observed the levels of acids, sugars, and aroma volatiles that release scents into the air.
Through a series of taste tests, volunteers judged levels of sweetness, sourness, and flavor intensity in each tomato. When these results were compared with analytical readings, they discovered the tomatoes with the sweetest taste contained a specific type of apocarotenoid, a chemical unrelated to sugar; meaning a sweeter tomato did not necessarily equal a higher sugar content. Not surprisingly, Cherry Roma tomatoes ranked the highest taste-wise.
They also discovered the most abundant aroma volatiles did not contribute to likeness, while less abundant levels were more likeable. This adds to the hypothesis that some foods trick us into thinking they’re sweet through their scent rather than their taste.
The team is now attempting to create tomatoes with higher levels of apocarotenoids in an attempt to find links to flavor.
Tomatoes are an incredibly popular and basic produce purchase, and the scientists believe it will pay off to try to figure out what goes into the perfect tomato. Let’s hope this stays in the produce industry rather than just working its way into making processed foods taste more natural. That being said, I’ll probably stick to growing my own tomatoes or buying delicious ones from the local farmers’ market (see Farmers’ Markets On The Rise Across The United States)