- By choosing to cultivate tomatoes that ripen evenly, breeders created a generation of tomatoes that taste terrible.
- A single gene mutation helps explain why supermarket tomatoes are so tasteless.
- Consumers may need to settle for uglier tomatoes if they want tastier tomatoes.
Most supermarket tomatoes are flavorless at best, and a single gene mutation goes a long way toward explaining why.
The mutation arose as breeders cultivated tomatoes to ripen evenly, a trait that makes harvesting cheaper and more efficient. As pretty as they look, though, mutated tomato fruits are less efficient at photosynthesizing, found a new study. As a result, they make less sugar and other compounds, which means they often taste far worse than tomatoes that may look blotchy but are full of explode-in-your-mouth sweetness.
For consumers who like their Caprese salads rich and complex, the results suggest that, for now, heirloom varieties at co-ops and farmer's markets may be your best bet. Eventually, the findings could help breeders put more satisfying flavor profiles back into everyday grocery store tomatoes.