Science is making killer (tasting) tomatoes again

From the “Day of the Killer Tomatoes” department comes this curious story from the AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY about food science and making tomatoes great again…at least the store bought ones.

Why are so many supermarket tomatoes tasteless and rock hard? In the 1990s, breeders developed a tomato that produces less of the hormone ethylene, so they stay hardened for shipping and then ripen in store. That delayed ripening combined with other breeding moves have made tomatoes bigger, redder and great for shipping, but also less satisfying in salad. This video shows how scientists are learning how tomatoes mature so that soon you may see and taste totally terrific tomatoes at the supermarket. Watch the latest Speaking of Chemistry video.

Folks who are familiar with the delicious flavor and texture of a freshly picked, vine-ripened tomato often feel betrayed by the hard, bland, red orbs sold in many supermarket produce aisles.

But a tomato flavor revival may be in store thanks to a group of researchers led by the University of Florida’s Harry Klee. The scientists sequenced the genome of 398 wild, heirloom, and supermarket tomato varieties. With the help of human taste panelists, they then identified the 28 most pleasurable tomato flavor and odor chemicals, including leafy geranylacetone, floral β-ionone, and citrusy 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one. Most supermarket tomatoes have much lower levels of 13 of these appealing molecules than heirloom varieties have, Klee says (Science 2017, DOI: 10.1126/science.aal1556).

To figure out which regions of the tomato genome are responsible for the biosynthesis of these desirable compounds, the team turned to tomato varieties that make them at high levels. The work provides a chemical and genetic road map to improved tomato flavor, Klee says.

The team’s goal was to be able to tell breeders: “Here’s what’s missing, here’s why, and here are the molecular markers you can use to help breed back these lost traits,” Klee tells C&EN. “We are trying to push the flavor calendar back decades to recapture the characteristics that were present in tomatoes in the first half of the 20th century.”

In recent decades, tomatoes have become America’s favorite fresh produce, now topping the fruit and vegetable industry with nearly 10% market share. With such high demand, breeders began focusing on making tomatoes that looked good and shipped well without considering the impact on taste, says James Giovannoni, a research scientist at USDA.

For example, most supermarket tomatoes have a genetic mutation that partially delays the production of ripening hormones, thereby adding one to two weeks of shelf life. An unintended consequence of the mutation, however, is that flavor and sugar production are also diminished. Meanwhile, when breeders selected for fruit with a uniform red color, they did not realize that the splotchy green patches on wild and heirloom varieties that they got rid of contain chloroplasts essential for sweetness and flavor production, Giovannoni says.

The new study builds on these discoveries by taking a genome-wide look at the chemistry and genetics of hundreds of tomato varieties and connecting the fruit’s chemistry with people’s preferences. The researchers also discovered that when breeders selected for larger fruits, the added girth came at the expense of sweetness: The enzymes required for sugar production got redirected toward bulking up.

“I don’t know if it’s possible to make a supermarket tomato that tastes exactly like it was grown in your own garden,” Giovannoni says, “but I have no doubt that this work can help breeders make supermarket tomatoes a lot better than they are now.”

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March 21, 2017 3:05 pm

Something besides pest and herbicide resistance to do as a GMO.

Mike McMillan
Reply to  Tom Halla
March 21, 2017 10:06 pm

Anybody remember MacGregor “FlavrSavr” tomatoes from 1995? Govt approved GMO beauties that had the rotting gene removed. Would last forever, just didn’t taste much like a tomato.

March 21, 2017 3:06 pm

When shopping for tomatoes to plant, I just look for those with high acid. High acid = high flavor. Low acid = bland flavored.

Reply to  Roy Denio
March 21, 2017 4:38 pm

I love the low acid heirlooms. To each his own, it seems.

Edmonton Al
Reply to  Roy Denio
March 22, 2017 5:22 am

We have disliked the GM tomatoes for quite some time. Hard and poor taste.
That is why we grow our own in the summer.

Don K
Reply to  Edmonton Al
March 22, 2017 7:08 am

I think the GM tomatoes were so awful that even American consumers wouldn’t buy them. See

“Although they were approved in the US and several other countries, tomatoes with delayed ripening have disappeared from the market after peaking in 1998. At this point, no genetically modified tomatoes are being grown commercially in North America or in Europe.”

My understanding is that the dreadful red things sold in supermarkets that look like tomatoes and taste like cardboard are a product of selective breeding, not genetic modification.

Here in New England, some supermarkets carry brownish red tomatoes with a brand name Kumato that have a limited shelf life, but actually taste like tomatoes. I don’t know if Kumato is sold elsewhere.

LK Miller
March 21, 2017 3:06 pm

….or, Science. I grew Garden Gem and Garden Treasure out of the University of Florida Klee lab, and will be doing so again this season. I can attest that both have EXCELLENT tomato flavor.

Reply to  LK Miller
March 21, 2017 5:49 pm

LK….try these guys
I have severe disease problems where I live….they have excellent disease resistant varieties
I can’t grow tomatoes with TYLCV resistance..

LK Miller
Reply to  Latitude
March 22, 2017 6:35 am

I live in a fairly far north location, so don’t need tomatoes for the tropics. The University of Florida’s Klee research producing Garden Gem and Garden Treasure is working very well for me. Plus, I almost always try a new variety each year just for kicks and to learn what will grow and what won’t.

David Belcher
Reply to  LK Miller
March 22, 2017 8:20 am

I received my Garden Gem and Treasure seeds a couple of weeks ago. Haven’t grown either, but I’m excited to try them this year. First germination in 4 days, and the little plants are doing well.

LK Miller
Reply to  David Belcher
March 22, 2017 9:06 am

FINALLY!! Someone else who is actually going to grow Garden Gem and Garden Treasure. I don’t want to bias your opinions on these varieties, other than I already have. Hope you have great success.

Killer Marmot
March 21, 2017 3:12 pm

The problem of bland-tasting produce is not limited to tomatoes, although it is a major example. Peaches, plums, and numerous other fruits suffer the same fate. I grew up in a major fruit-growing region where I often ate fruit straight off the tree, and the tasteless crap that they sell in grocery stores today is a travesty and a tragedy.

Reply to  Killer Marmot
March 21, 2017 4:50 pm

I picked plums one summer off my grandfathers then 60 acre orchard, used to conserve the orange country heavy oil drilling site for the future from real estate taxes. Worked alongside the ‘mestizos’ (illegal mexican igrant farm laborers). We picked at 60 % ripe by color to minimize transportation spoilage. Maximum flavor is 90-100% ripe. (Most tasters cannot tell the difference at that point). Made below minimum wage, as we were paid for fruit picked, period. Made sense then, and still does.

Reply to  Killer Marmot
March 22, 2017 5:45 am

and once again they go and take from the heirlooms that breed true dont cost if you save the seeds and then..
they screw around and patent it and the mug consumer gets to pay mega bucks
grow your own!! heirlooms.

March 21, 2017 3:14 pm

I have noticed something similar with eggs.
Farm eggs are much nicer than city eggs.
Why is it so?

Reply to  toorightmate
March 21, 2017 3:38 pm

My guess, from an egg factory that was opened not far from my early home is that they keep them in tiny spaces, stacked cages 6 or more feet high, no exercise, nothing consumed that wasn’t in the feed bags, odd day-light/night-dark patterns, lots of antibiotics. Tried them a couple times and my mother (who had raused barns-full in her time) said they were “watery”, short on some of the phospho-lipids/lecithin that act as emulsifiers, perhaps.

Keith J
Reply to  mib8
March 21, 2017 9:34 pm

It is feed, commercial egg producers get theirs in bulk and it is bland. Just all the amino acids, carbs and fatty acids plus minerals and vitamins. No bugs, nuts, sprouts or other grazing items.

Hatcheries are different. Plus they have roosters.

Edmonton Al
Reply to  mib8
March 22, 2017 5:26 am

Yes The feed. It is my understanding that “free range” chickens on the farm, eat green grass which helps give flavour and darker yokes.

Janice Moore
Reply to  toorightmate
March 21, 2017 3:41 pm

I used to have 7 little egg laying Barred Rock hens. I fed them basic chicken scratch and they supplemented that themselves with a few bugs and worms. I noticed no significant difference in flavor of their brown eggs from regular grocery store eggs (white or brown). The only difference was that they were often larger and more often had double yolks. Perhaps, with you, it is a freshness issue? Around here, the eggs are very fresh in the regular grocery store.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 21, 2017 3:46 pm

P.S. They cost much more than regular eggs. I only raised those 7 chicks for: 1) fun for the kids in my life at that time; and 2) I hate the thought of the miserable life of a non-free run chicken. Now, I pay more for the “free-run” eggs (not a great life like my little hens, but, better). If I could afford (at this time — someday, I will! 🙂 ) truly free run eggs, from someone’s farm, I would buy those.

No. I do not want to raise chickens again.

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 21, 2017 5:51 pm

We get eggs from free range Barred Rock, Americana, and Rhode Island Red hens next door. The eggs of the Americana are bluish, while the others are brown. They all taste about the same as the white (probably Leghorn) eggs we get in the store, however the yolks of the free range hens are definitely darker.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 21, 2017 8:28 pm

Because of the increasing daylight or some such trigger, hens are laying eggs faster than locals can get rid of them. We were offered some today. We will carry over frozen berries, and trade. They are also cheap in the stores. However, I know of 2 people that take eggs to the Seattle area markets. One gets $6/dz (free run in a vineyard) and the other gets $9/dz but those are certified organic and I don’t know what else.
We’ve had a couple types of game-birds, Chickens, and Turkeys. Such things are good to do for a bit, but like you, no more.

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 22, 2017 7:35 am

Duck eggs . I like duck eggs . Enough to keep the horny dumb bastards .

But living next to Pike Forest , they have all been disappeared or suffered similar violent fates : .

Reply to  toorightmate
March 21, 2017 7:09 pm

City eggs are washed, while farm eggs typically aren’t. After the washing, the eggs need to be refrigerated. Gathering and shipping eggs takes time, so the air inside the eggs gradually leaves the egg. Ever noticed when hard boiling eggs for deviled eggs that the older eggs don’t have that air pocket in them?

lemiere jacques
Reply to  toorightmate
March 21, 2017 11:36 pm

you have noticed…but you may be wrong, the first thing to do is a blind testing . Then, you can investigate the “why”.

Reply to  toorightmate
March 22, 2017 5:47 am

well, my chooks roam and get to eat real grass ie no colourant added to crummy store feed.
they eat real bugs for protien they get given wheat and scraps
the eggs are bright yellow and change the colour of any cake baked naturally
and they taste wonderful
you feed commercial feed pen them in dont give them fresh greens you get scrawny chooks and pale tasteless eggs.

Dan Hawkins
March 21, 2017 3:28 pm

Headline says “Scince” is responsible. Actually, “skins” has been my greatest beef against industrial tomatoes-they are bred to withstand automated processing, as well as knives, teeth, etc.

I bet ya meant “Science.”


March 21, 2017 3:29 pm

Yes, the machine harvested tomato was developed by G.C. Hanna & others at U of CA at Davis beginning in 1947, and traveling as far as NY in search of harder varieties, choosing to work with the “Red Top”. The harvesters began to be deployed by 1962, and he had a workable tomato by 1971.

See Everett M. Rogers 1983, 2093 _Diffusion of Innovations_ pp150-152; it was in some hand-me-down books from a former protege, and I passed it along to an agricultural economics prof in SC who was a protege of another former co-worker.

There are some words about wanting to dispense with USA & Mexican farm-workers. Coby Lorenzen credited with design of the harvester, and Ernest Blackwelder with manufacture. Not quite as much vitamins in the machine harvested varieties, either, so this new work could be a good development all around.

Janice Moore
March 21, 2017 3:31 pm

The video was pretty good with nice graphics and a pleasant, matter-of-fact, narration style. Re: the narrator’s fire away in the comments, here you go! 🙂

Re-do this video taking into account the following:

1. Re: the public not liking GMO foods, so, use the slower hybridizing techniques,

Nonsense! Don’t cave into those cave-person mentality protesters! Instead, use public education to tell the public the TRUTH: GMO foods are exactly as safe as non-GMO.

2. a. This viewer kept wondering, “But, do those cheaper, inferior flavor, tomatoes have the same NUTRITION value?”

Answer this Q, or else those of us who do not have the discretionary income to spend on nicer tomatoes simply will not — we will err on the side of saving money and hoping the yuckier tomatoes are giving us the nutrition we need (the main reason we are eating them).

b. IF the price of the new, great-tasting, tomatoes (assuming equal nutrition value) is about the same as the bland tomatoes, the above is not a concern.

c. IF the price of the new tomatoes is too high for the average consumer to buy, be sure that the new tomatoes’ price is about the same as home-grown tomatoes (they are significantly more expensive than the bland story tomatoes, given the water needs, etc.) AND educate people about the cost of home-grown — people think they are cheaper and won’t buy your delicious, expensive tomatoes, even with a comparable price, for they believe home-grown is cheaper (PLUS it is convenient).

d. vis a vis the above, re: allocation of your advertising $$ — don’t even try to grab the “no-pesticide” “organic” people — they have a cult mentality about science and simply buy based on their fears/quasi-religious beliefs. Tha is try SOME public ed. here, but, don’t expect to get past their fear-based belief system and waste lots of ad $$ on it.

3. In the U.S., “heirloom” is pronounced with a silent “h.” This may seem like quibbling, but it was annoyingly distracting and in communication, getting the audience to listen is essential. No matter how good your facts are, distractions like that can prevent effective communication. “HAIR loom? Oh, brother” I kept thinking.

4. See other comments on this thread — I’m quitting here and there HAVE to be some more good thoughts on this! 🙂


A final thought vis a vis possible taxpayer funding for this (not assuming there is any at time time):

There are MANY more things we need to be spending money on before indulging in this worthwhile, but very, very, low priority desire of Americans.

btw: I LOVE tomatoes (excellent tasting ones, I mean)!

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 21, 2017 3:35 pm

P.S. For a good laugh, read my comment — wha typoos!!!

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 22, 2017 12:50 am

Janice Moore:

Your post is interesting and thought-provoking. I write to comment on your point 2c, viz.

c. IF the price of the new tomatoes is too high for the average consumer to buy, be sure that the new tomatoes’ price is about the same as home-grown tomatoes (they are significantly more expensive than the bland story tomatoes, given the water needs, etc.) AND educate people about the cost of home-grown — people think they are cheaper and won’t buy your delicious, expensive tomatoes, even with a comparable price, for they believe home-grown is cheaper (PLUS it is convenient).

As I am sure you know, that is simplistic because taste, nutrition, convenience and affordability are not the only significant factors affecting retail sales of a foodstuff. Other important issues include brand loyalty, packaging, appearance, not being too cheap, advertising, etc..

Tomatoes are a clear example because they were first introduced to Europe as aphrodisiacs; they were called ‘love apples’. There are still people who assert the aphrodisiac properties of tomatoes, e.g. this web site does. The poaching of rhinos and the price of rhino horn demonstrate what some people are willing to pay for aphrodisiacs.


Bob Hoye
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 22, 2017 9:15 am

Shouldn’t it be “Typpos”?

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 22, 2017 12:18 pm

Hi, Richard,

Good to see you. Thank you for your thoughtful and worthwhile comment. Yes, indeed, my quick-and-dirty comment left out a LOT, huh?

Lol, never heard about the aphrodisiac claim. I’ve always wondered why….. why do they need an aphrodisiac (at THAT level of market demand)? Weird. Most people in the U.S. appear to have the opposite problem!! Adultery is rampant here and those who resist temptation are not in need of any aid… they just managed to serve Honor (with God’s help in most cases). Also, with all the medical-assist drugs on the market, why do they go after the rhinos anymore? — sickening to me.

Thank you for the brief-but-helpful listening therapy session (as to “that” issue).

Bye for now!


— olo, er, I mean, lol. 🙂

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 21, 2017 5:48 pm

When radioactivity was first discovered, people went nuts with delight over it. Back in the day, you could buy radium-laced bread, radium water, with all manner of health claims made for it. Glow-in-the-dark watches were super cool, and Madame Curie wrote up her lab notes by the glow of her radium stash. And of course, real-time x-ray views of your feet in shoes made great sales appeal.

Took a while for folks to catch on that, no, maybe we oughtn’t eat that stuff, or dose even our extremities with quite that much — shoe-shop x-ray devices didn’t get banned till the ’70s.

Cigarettes — how about the ads claiming X brand cigarettes as being “recommended” by doctors? If a doctor back then suggested avoiding smoking, would he have been called a “cave person”?

Me, I’m’a wait and see how you volunteer lab rats do, before I indulge in GMOs. Funny thing, in my cave we are familiar with the history of science . . . and of humans. E.g., as readers of this blog know so well, all peer-reviewed studies can be trusted implicitly and only Luddites doubt them.

Reply to  mellyrn
March 22, 2017 6:32 am

GMOs have been tested, and no health affects have been found.
Your analogy to radiation is invalid, because it was never tested.
Your analogy to smoking is invalid because everybody knew that it was bad for you.

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 21, 2017 6:11 pm

“Nonsense! Don’t cave into those cave-person mentality protesters! Instead, use public education to tell the public the TRUTH: GMO foods are exactly as safe as non-GMO.”

How the hell could you know that, Janice?

Janice Moore
Reply to  JohnKnight
March 21, 2017 6:14 pm

Because we have been eating them for YEARS, Mr. Knight.

Reply to  JohnKnight
March 21, 2017 6:24 pm

Things that have not yet been generated, cannot have been eaten for years . .

Reply to  JohnKnight
March 21, 2017 6:41 pm

PS ~ People drank water that was certainly not healthy, for many years too . . before it was realized there were things in the water that was causing harm . . that it was happening for many years was obviously not the whole story, so to speak . .

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  JohnKnight
March 21, 2017 8:34 pm

JohnK @6:41
Yes, water is bad for you. Drink wine. Sunshine in a bottle.
Seriously, much wine was historically consumed because it didn’t kill the drinker.

Reply to  JohnKnight
March 22, 2017 6:33 am

In wine there is truth
In beer there is strength
In water there is bacteria

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 22, 2017 12:21 am

Janice Moore:

Your post is interesting and thought-provoking. I write to comment on your Point 2c; viz.

c. IF the price of the new tomatoes is too high for the average consumer to buy, be sure that the new tomatoes’ price is about the same as home-grown tomatoes (they are significantly more expensive than the bland story tomatoes, given the water needs, etc.) AND educate people about the cost of home-grown — people think they are cheaper and won’t buy your delicious, expensive tomatoes, even with a comparable price, for they believe home-grown is cheaper (PLUS it is convenient).

As I am sure you know, that is simplistic.

People have a variety of reasons for their retail purchase choices with price and nutritional value being only two that apply to any foodstuff.

For example, significant numbers of people equate cheap with inferior and, therefore, many products lose retail sales if too cheap. And many people have loyalty to a brand or a supplier which is why companies pay for most advertising. And packaging affects purchase choices. etc.

Your illustration of eggs provides a clear example of packaging issues. Hens eggs need cheap, protective packaging because the quality of the eggs is the main consideration of most egg purchasers. Chocolate Easter eggs need fancy packaging because the appearance of the packaging is the main consideration of their purchasers.

Indeed, tomatoes are an especially clear example of a foodstuff purchased for reasons other than price and nutrition. The first tomatoes conveyed to Europe from the New World were imported as aphrodisiacs and were called ‘love apples’. There are still people who assert the aphrodisiac properties of tomatoes; e.g. see this web page. The poaching of rhinos and the price demanded for rhino horn demonstrate the extremes people will pay for aphrodisiacs.


Reply to  richardscourtney
March 22, 2017 12:22 pm

I don’t often agree with Mr. Courtney, but in this case I do. Marketing beats all.
I have a friend who who once worked for a brass foundry. They got a request from Colonial Williamsburg for period reproductions of brass trivets(three legged stands for hot pans). Initially they produced three authentic reproductions of colonial designs that sold for $7 a piece or a box of three for $19.95. They sold OK, but much below CW’s expectations. The next year they were packed in individual boxes with colonial-themed packaging for $30 a piece. They couldn’t keep them on the shelves they sold so well.
In a similar vein, Consumer Reports did a piece on weddings a few years ago. Part of it examined dresses. They bought about 30 different dresses from various shops and designers ranging in price from $300 to $3000 and went over each one for quality- fit for actual sizes, workmanship, materials, design, etc. They came up with the three best quality ones. One sold for $1500, one for $600, and one for $1100-1200. According to the retailers most dress sold in the $2000 and up range. The tested $1500 dress, made by a high end designer, was a best seller also.

Regarding tomatoes and fruits- for several years we had a backyard garden. In dry years the green peppers were small, maybe 2inches, and very strongly flavored. In the wettest year they were much bigger, about 4inches(8x volume) and much blander, similar to store bought. My take, the plants evolved to produce a certain amount of flavor chemicals per bud. It’s energetically very expensive for the plant. More water just makes it easier to produce bigger, blander fruit.

Larry D
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 22, 2017 1:18 am

The nutrition question applies to all domesticated plant foods we’ve been altering over the last century or so, but I’m not sure we yet know enough about human nutrition to answer it. We’re still figuring out how badly the first nutritional guidelines issued by the Dept. of Agriculture messed up.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 22, 2017 6:56 am

Janice, what typos –

thanks for your comment, LOL !

Don K
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 22, 2017 7:47 am

“TRUTH: GMO foods are exactly as safe as non-GMO.”

Very likely true. I don’t have any problem with eating GMO foods. But we won’t be absolutely sure for many decades — centuries for all you and I know. Someday we may be able to sequence the genome of the lab’s brand new presectioned pineapple with a hide that unzips and can be made into shoes/purses, and leaves that are crispy and taste like potato chips. Then feed the genome through software and predict exactly what chemicals are created during growth and in storage after harvest. And in what amounts. Not any time soon.

And of course hybridization and selective breeding aren’t any guarantee that your cold tolerant mangos don’t contain dangerous amounts of some nasty neurotoxin either.

Mistakes will probably be made. Hopefully not very many and not very serious.

Tom in Florida
March 21, 2017 3:44 pm

It doesn’t matter what tomato you use, engineer or create. As long as they are picked green and treated with ethylene gas to make them turn red, they will always have no taste. It is my understanding that if you irradiate the tomatoes after picking you can leave them on the vine to ripen naturally and they will remain fresh long enough to get them to markets.

Owen in GA
Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 21, 2017 4:29 pm

That won’t work. Not from a technical standpoint mind you, but a psychological one. I had a neighbor that about had an apoplectic fit when I was expounding on the wonders of irradiation. You would have thought I was telling him to go have a picnic in Chernobyl or Fukushima didn’t want his kids glowing in the dark.

Anything hinting at “radiation” makes idiots freak! Of course this was the same neighbor that was scared to death of “those blamed government agents and their chemtrails”. So maybe I have just run into a large number of people with a few screws loose.

Keith J
Reply to  Owen in GA
March 21, 2017 9:39 pm

Chemtrails are real. The two main chemicals are hydrogen hydroxide and dihydrogen monoxide. With some carbonic anhydride and a few nitrogen oxides. Rest is air. Those all are chemicals and they trail the plane.

Plus they are made in the engines. For real dude.

Matt Bergin
Reply to  Owen in GA
March 22, 2017 5:49 am

Thanks Keith for the morning laugh. I hope you don’t mind if I use your blurb on the next flat earth/chem-trail believer I run into. It is fun watching them try to slowly digest some facts.

Reply to  Owen in GA
March 22, 2017 6:35 am

When I was in college, we kids referred to putting food in the microwave as nuking it.
Because of this, I once ran across someone who actually thought putting food in a microwave would make it radioactive.

Reply to  MarkW
March 22, 2017 1:55 pm

I once ran across someone who actually thought putting food in a microwave would make it radioactive.

Guess you have not been around colleges lately, or the total would be a lot more than 1!

Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 21, 2017 4:57 pm

Tom, buy green tomatoes…..put them in a bowl of fruit and let them ripen naturally
….not gassed
Best I’ve found…and better than what I grew

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Latitude
March 21, 2017 7:36 pm


Ernest Bush
Reply to  Latitude
March 21, 2017 7:43 pm

Adding epsom salts and rock dust in quantity will greatly improve the flavor of home grown tomatoes and make them more resistant to disease. Also, grow tasty varieties.

Reply to  Latitude
March 21, 2017 8:01 pm

Been doing that for years, after the last Tomatoes get harvested we always have 20-30 lbs of tennis balls we keep them cool , dry and in dark. As we need them we put a few with apples or pears and have a supply that lasts for months.( we actually just last week had to buy our first store bought ones since September!) We favor Romas because they have more meat and need a lot less watering than others. We also got a variety called Fakel they are from Russia very long lasting and hardy. As far as fruit is concerned like apple ,peaches etc? Nothing better than tree ripe!

Reply to  Latitude
March 22, 2017 8:37 am

The best tomatoes I ever grew were some wild Mexican Cherry tomatoes in a raised bed heavily treated with Azomite rock dust. The plants were over 6 ft tall and sprawled all over the place.
Doubled the yield and incredible taste. We were picking quarts every day all summer long.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 21, 2017 5:40 pm

I put all my green tomatoes in a box lined with a plastic bag and add 6-8 apples which emit ethylene gas, loosely cover with another plastic bag and they ripen wonderfully and full of flavor.

Reply to  stevekeohane
March 21, 2017 5:51 pm

exactly….green tomatoes haven’t been gassed

LK Miller
March 21, 2017 3:49 pm

I’m finding all the comments about bland tasting tomatoes pretty comical. The solution is simple: Grow your own.

Janice Moore
Reply to  LK Miller
March 21, 2017 4:01 pm

That you find them comical is because you were laughing so hard that you overlooked a few factors. Cost needs to be factored in (also availability of an area to grow them in, inter alia). I have grown vegetables at home, including tomatoes, and it costs more. If cost is not a factor, then, YES. However, in my neck of the woods some years, without a greenhouse, it is almost impossible to grow enough tomatoes to make the effort and expense worth it. Also, even in a GREAT tomato year, we in this area would have to go without tomatoes for about 9 months out of the year.

LK Miller
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 21, 2017 4:07 pm

I live in northwest Montana, and while growing tomatoes here is more of a challenge, it isn’t impossible. A greenhouse is necessary. But, life is too short to settle for bland tomatoes. And, I grow enough so that the canned sauce and tomatoes, retaining their excellent flavor, last me the rest of the year. And, then some…


Reply to  Janice Moore
March 21, 2017 4:51 pm

Tomatoes can be grown in containers.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 21, 2017 5:59 pm

Containers are a great idea, but, you still need: plenty of sunshine, room in your apartment, water, seedlings, soil, fertilizer, etc.. Great hobby. I’m just trying to focus on the market potential vis a vis the average buyer, not the absolute feasibility of it.

Aaaaaand my free marketing advice is just a bunch of wasted space, huh? lol — oh — well.

Enjoy your container and your greenhouse tomatoes! 🙂

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 21, 2017 6:01 pm

“your container TOMATOES” (in case that wasn’t clear — to some, it will not be, I GUARANTEE it…. in fact, I think I can hear the stomp of one guy’s feet headed this way now….)

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 22, 2017 8:41 am


Get an Aerogrow – essentially plug-n-play LED lit hydroponics. You can grow tomatoes and peppers all year round no matter where you live. The thing only uses 45 Watts for the lights, plus a small air pump.
Also great for starting seeds.

Reply to  LK Miller
March 21, 2017 6:33 pm

I agree, and I intend to raise my share this summer. AND my share will always be the tastiest tomatoes out there: Roma Tomatoes. They may not be the biggest, but Mama Leoni knows taste best, and I’ll go along with her thinking. The key is “Less Acid” and “more sweetness”.

Reply to  LK Miller
March 21, 2017 7:13 pm

Even growing your own doesn’t solve the problem if you use standard seeds for varieties such as Big Boy, Better Boy, etc. They used to have flavor (back in the early 80’s), but now they are as bad as supermarket tomatoes. Because I DID grow my own, and they were horrible. Right now, heirloom tomatoes are the way to go via my local farm stand. (And their vine ripened regular varieties are also almost tasteless.)

LK Miller
Reply to  Chris
March 22, 2017 6:55 am

Did you miss where I noted that I’m growing the UF varieties? They are EXCELLENT, almost disease free, and easy to grow.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  LK Miller
March 22, 2017 8:03 am

“The solution is simple”:

noone buys ‘made in America’.

LK Miller
Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
March 22, 2017 8:11 am

I have no idea how you think your comment is relevant.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
March 22, 2017 8:30 am

Anyone here buying ‘LK Miller’ ?

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
March 22, 2017 8:41 am

In the EU we have enough ‘cucumber curve’ regulations.

TTIP LK Miller. Telling me.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  LK Miller
March 22, 2017 8:08 am

Anyone here buying ‘LK Miller’ ?

LK Miller
Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
March 22, 2017 8:14 am

Again, your comment is completely nonsensical and irrelevant.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
March 22, 2017 8:23 am

why telling me.

March 21, 2017 3:57 pm

From the “Day of the Killer Tomatoes” department . . . .

“I know I’m going to miss her
a tomato ate my sister”
–from Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes Theme


Walter Sobchak
March 21, 2017 4:01 pm

If you don’t like the flavor of the tomatoes, do not buy them. But, if you live outside of the tropics, you can only rely on fresh tomatoes a few weeks in the late summer.

In my own experience, I have found that there are more, and better tomatoes on the market now than there ever were in the past. Some of the hothouse tomatoes that are now available in stores up here in the frigid north outside of our brief growing season are quite good.

But, the wide availability of fresh produce grown far away is a good thing, even if some of it does not meet your exacting culinary standards.

March 21, 2017 4:01 pm

Plant your own, Pilgrams! I did, one batch of Aunt Lucy’s German green tomatoes, prized as more succulent than any red tomato, and one hybrid green tomato for making fried green tomatoes, since I have no way of buying green tomatoes. Can freeze breaded green tomatoes also.
Will plant my seedlings out in several weeks. Every seed I planted produced a seedling.

Mike Williams
March 21, 2017 4:39 pm

No mention of refrigeration…which also causes tomatoes to lose flavor. The growers, shippers, and retailers go to great lengths to get tomatoes from the vines and onto the shelves without refrigeration. The first thing people do when they get them home is put them in their refrigerator and then complain about the taste.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Mike Williams
March 21, 2017 6:15 pm

Good point, Mr. Williams (just FYI, the video mentions it, though the printed text does not).

Reply to  Mike Williams
March 21, 2017 6:17 pm

The first thing people do when they get them home is put them in their refrigerator and then complain about the taste.

Got that right. Never refrigerate your tomatoes. I knew a private chef for Hollywood stars who would stick them in a brown paper bag (and date the bag) with a green banana to ripen. Ditto avocadoes.

Someone up-list mentioned 6-8 apples. I’ll have to try that.

LK Miller
Reply to  MRW
March 22, 2017 6:44 am

It doesn’t take 6-8 apples. One will do. Been doing this for MANY years with the less-than-ripe tomatoes at the end of the season when a frost is due. Works great. I use a brown paper shopping bag and just sort the tomatoes by color.

Reply to  LK Miller
March 23, 2017 5:59 pm


LK Miller
Reply to  MRW
March 24, 2017 7:55 am

You are most welcome.

March 21, 2017 4:39 pm

Remember hot-house tomatoes? They weren’t very tasty either but like today’s that are shipped in from someplace warm, they were available in winter. Here in the Midwest the greenhouses burned coal. All gone now. Replaced by airplanes and refrigerated trucks.


March 21, 2017 5:01 pm

Those interested in this tomato story should read Tomatoland, by Estabrook. Available as an inexpensive Amazon ebook. The story is not just of tomatoes, tomato genetics, and tomato commercialization, but also of the illegal immigrant tomato laborers extensively used by the industry, told through the lens of South Florida’s massive tomato industry. UF’s pictured new ‘ugly ripe’ variety with more flavor and the ‘red gene’ features prominently near the end of the book. I buy it whenever available locally. Both tomato and book Highly recommended.

Reply to  ristvan
March 21, 2017 5:22 pm

Thanks. I’ll add that to my reading list. Looks interesting.

March 21, 2017 5:12 pm

Anyone interested in growing tomatoes in the tropics…
….needs this company….where I get my seed

March 21, 2017 5:16 pm

I hate tomatoes. Yuk!

And completely off topic. Did anyone see the Guardian article on the state of the climate today? I can’t recall a single fact in it, just a complete rant. It threw the comments section Green Goblins into a complete feeding frenzy.

March 21, 2017 5:19 pm

Store bought strawberries are the worst. Just bland and bulky. Hey the farmer gets paid by the pound so you can’t fault him for focusing on increasing “pith” of the final product.

Good news for me is there are lots of berry farms that I can either pick or buy at that have strawberries (and other varieties) that are like candy. I’d rather have them frozen than the store bought fresh. No contest.

Janice Moore
March 21, 2017 5:52 pm

Here are some Black Eyed Peas speeded up:

Boom, Boom, Pow! (sped up) 🙂


I KNOW it is off topic. But, just how many more on-topic comments about tomatoes are there going to BE???? Not many, I wager.

So, I hope this can stay in…… so the rest of us (well, heh, “the rest of us” who laugh at the same stuff I do, lololol) can laugh (not just ol’ Greenhouse Miller above).


Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 21, 2017 5:54 pm

Just imagine you and your little sister (or big brother)… 🙂

LK Miller
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 22, 2017 6:38 am

Relax Janice. Most people can grow their own tomatoes if it is important to them.

Janice Moore
Reply to  LK Miller
March 22, 2017 12:27 pm

… and if they have the money and the time (think parent with small children) to do so.

Have fun laughing and sneering at people, LK, with others like yourself, while you enjoy your delicious tomatoes.

LK Miller
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 22, 2017 12:42 pm

With complete respect Janice – breathe. I’ve been gardening more or less regularly for more than 40 years. Two observations: 1) you can make gardening expensive if you like, but it certainly isn’t a requirement. As an example, I don’t pay a dime for my containers (empty laundry detergent tubs, free containers from Home Depot/Lowes that would otherwise be a disposal problem for them, e.g.). and 2) I gardened when our 3 daughters were little, and both my wife and I worked full time jobs. Like I said, priorities.

Janice Moore
Reply to  LK Miller
March 22, 2017 7:04 pm

And I suppose, O Wonderful Miller, that you were living in an apartment at the time. Good for you.

“Breathe” not equal “with respect” — you don’t even realize how pompously ridiculous you sound.

Like I said, enjoy your delicious tomatoes wearing a smirk. My only goal, which you seem to have completely missed, was to focus on the “average consumer” vis a vis marketing the posted video’s tomatoes.

This has not been about me — at all.

Your own ego is all that made you think so.

March 21, 2017 5:55 pm

I grow heirloom tomatoes in organic soil. Beats anything you buy in a supermarket.

Tomatoes are the easiest thing to grow, grow your own!

Reply to  nancyg22
March 21, 2017 6:09 pm

Nancy, got news. Depends on where you live. My Wisonsin tomatoes almost always fail. My Chicago tomatoes come through late, even though planted in a SW corner to take advantage of the brick wall reflector warming.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  nancyg22
March 21, 2017 8:47 pm

Most need nighttime temps above 55°F to set fruit. Some years I have lots of green ones at the end. I let most sprawl on the ground, especially the indeterminate types.

Bill Illis
March 21, 2017 6:17 pm

Lots of commercial-grown produce is less tasty than home-grown or wild varieties. I grow a big garden and the differences are yuge. One particularly big difference is blueberries. My family would pick hundreds of pounds of wild berries each year (and freeze them for use for a whole year). The commercial bigger ones found in the grocery store are not even close and taste rather crappy. The wild ones are truly special.

Reply to  Bill Illis
March 21, 2017 6:19 pm

Huckleberries even more so.

Reply to  Chimp
March 21, 2017 8:12 pm

Try finding Black berries wild ! wow . We are lucky, where we live the whole area used to be a huge ranch were early Japanese grew the fruits, berries and orchards we find wild stuff in a lot of places! ( sadly though it is getting developed and it is getting harder to find stuff. Most farmers today have also put up deer fencing that stop you from getting to areas that still have wild fruit growing.)

March 21, 2017 6:21 pm

I have been growing several varieties of tomatoes each year during the last 20 or so years. Weather and other growing conditions will sometimes favor one or two varieties over others. Of late, I like Burpee Big Beef, and the Super Sauce varieties. Of heirlooms, I like the orange colored Jubilee and Romas. The orange Jubilees make rather exotic looking tomato sauce.

Last year was pretty good, so I’ve still got about 60 quarts of whole and crushed tomatoes downstairs. To make good sauce, however, it takes about 3 quarts to make about 1 quart of thick Marinara sauce.

I do agree with the article above. There’s room for improvement in the store tomatoes and the biochemical approach will get results.

March 21, 2017 7:10 pm

After they finally managed to ruin the Roma variety we gave up buying them. Sour, hard on one side, rotten on the other. Frankly nothing like they were.

March 21, 2017 8:14 pm

This is a fun thread thanks for all the tips guys and gals ! 🙂 !

March 21, 2017 8:31 pm

I often refer to store tomatoes as “tomato-like things”. Unfortunately, I never had any success growing tomatoes of my own.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  littlepeaks
March 21, 2017 8:56 pm

Try a couple of the “cherry tomato” types. There are red, yellow, and other odd colors, and different shapes and sizes.
Do an “Images” search with — cherry tomatoes
You will get a very colorful screen.
From a garden store, buy several different types in small plastic pots.
Seed packets give you 35 or so of the same thing.

Reply to  littlepeaks
March 22, 2017 1:17 am

Simple – good soil and regular feeding and moderate watering. Can’t miss.

Alan Robertson
March 21, 2017 9:13 pm

I had to make 2 trips to Whole Foods Market to find out if their advertised “Heirloom” tomatoes were as tasty as my home grown Cherokee Purples and Brandywines, etc.
1st trip, I bought $15 worth but dropped the sack when I got home and ruined them both.

Stephen Richards
Reply to  Alan Robertson
March 22, 2017 2:15 am

$7.50 each ? OUCH

March 21, 2017 10:03 pm

I thought I knew tomato taste well until I toured Italy. Something about their soil, I suspect, or maybe we were just in the mood to manga.

March 22, 2017 1:15 am

Each Summer I grow my own and the difference seems to get bigger. I have also noticed Stone Fruits are tasteless now and don’t seem to ripen properly. Ditto of course for Stawberries!!!

Stephen Richards
March 22, 2017 2:14 am

I thought they just picked them unripe to give them a longer shelf life.

But, simple really, I grow my own. Yellow, green, black, beef, cherry

March 22, 2017 5:13 am

I look forward to the new tomatoes! But it saddens me that they have picked apart the flavoring of a tomato to the point that the bragging rights to the best flavor (Hanover Tomatoes or New Jersey Tomatoes) will be decided by a measuring device instead of the subjective palate.

March 22, 2017 6:17 am

I have an even better formula for killer (tasting) tomatoes, which I have been using now for over three years. Here’s the process:

(1) Locate a small parcel of ground that receives at least 6 to eight hours of direct sun per day during the warmest months of the year.
(2) Add soil amendments such as homemade compost, composted cow manure, and/or a basic granular fertilizer, like 10-10-10, working this all into the first six-inch, top layer of your chosen parcel.
(3) Go to Lowe’s and buy some tomato plants.
(4) Dig planting holes for your bought plants, in the soil you just amended.
(5) Intertwine a soaker hose between your plants.
(6) Position sturdy cages, trellis, stakes, or some other form of supporting structure near your plants.
(7) Make sure your plants get at least an inch of water per week, more if really hot, … probably 2 inches is better.
(8) Prune, if you want bigger fruits.
(9) Watch out for pests, and take appropriate action if the little suckers invade.
(10) Pick you developed fruits.
(11) Eat.
(12) Never buy grocery-store tomatoes again; just live without them during the colder months. If you live where it’s cold, then, tough cookies, bub, I guess you are condemned to trying to eat those hard, generally tasteless (by comparison) store-bought thingies labeled “tomatoes”.

Juan Slayton
Reply to  Robert Kernodle
March 22, 2017 6:29 am

This conversation brings back some very early memories. Probably about 1944 and I was maybe 3 years old. Military pay had not done much for Dad’s portfolio, so one day he and Mom went out to join the tomato harvest. No child care, so I was left to my own devices in the tomato field. Being of a natural scientific bent, I undertook an empirical investigation of the flavor of…dirt. Summary for policy makers: Floridian dirt tastes terrible–right up there with coffee.

Reply to  Juan Slayton
March 22, 2017 6:36 am


You are putting forth a consensus view that is flawed, I’m afraid, as I have empirical evidence disproving your claim about the taste of dirt, …. in the form of a large German shepherd who apparently has quite an appreciation of its flavor.

Juan Slayton
Reply to  Juan Slayton
March 25, 2017 4:52 pm

Robert, your pup is probably trying to get the taste of your last trespasser out of his mouth.

March 22, 2017 6:28 am

This is the second article on tomatoes in a month.
Is this site becoming the all tomato all the time site?

/sarc for those who don’t get it.

Donna K. Becker
Reply to  MarkW
March 22, 2017 10:09 am

Since it’s tomato-planting time (or nearly so for many), some of us have tomatoes on the brain. I’ll be starting mine, which are mostly heirlooms, from seed next week. My climate can be cold and variable, even in the summer, so I must be creative by using a greenhouse and/or moving potted plants around.

Johann Wundersamer
March 22, 2017 7:04 am

Chiquita science:…34

Sweet Old Bob
March 22, 2017 7:15 am

A great source of seeds is Tomatofest,com .Heirloom , over 650 kinds .

March 22, 2017 7:53 am

A killer tomato thread and nobody posts the trailer? It still exists. Cheers –


March 22, 2017 7:59 am

He is an interesting article from the NY Times titled “Why Do Americans Refrigerate Their Eggs.”

March 22, 2017 8:21 am

This should be filed under ‘having destroyed the market for luscious tomatoes 50 years ago, we are the people you should trust for super tasting tomatoes in future’. Supermarkets….who seek to bankrupt farmers, suppliers and customers alike…..

It is like tasking McDonalds and Coke with addressing the obesity and diabetes epidemic their unhealthy products did so much to exacerbate.

Why not sue them for £10trn instead and let those committed to healthy produce make a decent living?

Johann Wundersamer
March 22, 2017 9:10 am

Green scream killer tomatoer – hush back to hillary homes.

Never opened the mouth when needed – now selling WHAT?

aghastly ‘where you’ve been the last 20 years’, Schmarotzer LK Miller

LK Miller
Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
March 22, 2017 9:23 am

We have a saying in the US, Johann: When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is put down the shovel. Your comments are almost incoherent, which I can partly understand with English not being your first language. However, your weak attempts to mock and slander me are laughable. Now, go back to whatever rock you crawled out from under.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  LK Miller
March 22, 2017 9:51 am


Now, go back to whatever rock you crawled out from under.

you’re talking to?

First talking, best crawling.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  LK Miller
March 22, 2017 10:06 am

Remarked you on

Billa, Spar, Reve –

your own choice.

Sell us your Chlorhühnchen.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  LK Miller
March 22, 2017 10:28 am
Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  LK Miller
March 22, 2017 10:39 am

Du Kasperl, Du ganz witziger –

Wem willst Du in Zukunft Was verkaufen.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  LK Miller
March 22, 2017 11:55 am
Johann Wundersamer
March 22, 2017 9:27 am

Scheiss auf alle hard core ‘Most unneeded supermarket tomatoes’

when the sun doesn’t shine out of their makers a’holes.

Go tell Obama, maybe Cares.

Johann Wundersamer
March 22, 2017 9:29 am

Elendige ‘Märzgefallene’.

Matt Skaggs
March 22, 2017 11:01 am

Re: Washing your Eggs

Storebought eggs are bland and watery because the hens only eat feed. Even free range chickens do not actually forage, eggs from foraging hens are called “pastured.” My hens produce delicious eggs with bright orange yolks and whites that stand up in the pan. They forage on bugs and worms and plants, and that forage comes out of real dirt. It rains a lot here in Seattle. Add it all up and you get mud and manure on your eggs, they look terrible this time of year. So they get washed, and then they look good. Even after a few weeks of storage in or out of the refrigerator, the quality does not decline very much. So IMO the whole washing thing is overblown.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Matt Skaggs
March 22, 2017 12:23 pm

In Europe we name such

Aaschlöscha – Ass holes

Aaschebescha – Ash Tray

Johann Wundersamer
March 22, 2017 11:42 am

In Europe we name such

as LK Miller

‘Baulöwen’ ; look up

= Oligarchs; corruptionists.

Welcome home.

March 23, 2017 5:00 pm

These stories are not about taste, but about how innovation and CO2 are contributing to the tomato supply in Australia.
The first article mentions the 30% increase due to CO2 enrichment in the annual A$100 million output of this greenhouse complex.

The second article from one of Australias oldest rural newspapers makes no mention of the impact CO2 has on increasing output.

Is this how far PC has infiltrated the minds of those who should know better?

March 25, 2017 10:54 am

I can only stand tomatoes in ketchup. The only other thing their any good for is throwing at climate alarmists.

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