Ugly Tomatoes

Every once in a while, I come across some writing on the Internet that has me cheering and wanting to share widely. Today, just such a thing happened. A friend shared a blog about tomatoes with me and I have the fortunate circumstance of both enjoying the post in question and having a general excitement about the blog's approach, writ large. And so, it seems the time to share my find more widely.

The blog is Flavor Alchemy, a space devoted to find the science in all things culinary in an attempt to educate and encourage more curiosity. I'm all for such things and I can already tell I'll be digging through past posts to find items of interest along the way.

The post in particular that's captured my attention is about why Why ugly tomatoes taste better. Now, ugly is a subjective term. However, heirloom tomatoes -- those sweet, juicy gems of fruit I'm absolutely lusting over these days -- are not uniformly colored, shaped, or considered "ideal" from most supermarket standards. That said, I rather think they are beautiful, but that might come with the bias that takes root upon biting into one. They come in a wide range of lovely colors and each individual tomato brings with it a host ridges, color gradients, and more. In particular, they often sport green or pale red patches near the stem and this post goes into detail about why that's essential for the incredible flavor that heirloom tomatoes bring to your table. The short of it is that, in an effort to create a tomato that looks prettier or riper, tomato breeders have killed the very source of sweetness in tomatoes. That's why you can find yourself biting into a uniformly red, round tomato and wondering why it tastes about the same as cardboard! For more on the science behind the differences between heirloom tomatoes and those supermarket beauties with the shallow flavor, take a quick trip to Flavor Alchemy. It's a great read. But I still don't think heirloom tomatoes are ugly.

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