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Tomato Flavor

January 19, 2016

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These heirloom black cherry tomatoes earned the nickname “explosion tomatoes” several summers ago. The little neighbor girls who peer over the fence and talk with me while I garden gave them the name. “When you put one in your mouth, it explodes with flavor,” the oldest said.

Hopefully, we all can recall a summer tomato moment–when the intertwining of sweet and acid produces gastronomic bliss. My moments link to ‘Green Zebra’ and ‘Cherokee Purple.’

Come midwinter, tomato moments fade and they’re not revived by the offerings seen in the grocery store. I pass by the tomato display quickly, knowing a purchase will only amount to expensive disappointment. 

January tomatoes don’t fit with my preference for eating seasonally and locally. And though Mexico is next door, production there is problematic for many reasons. But back to flavor.

January brings the seed catalogs with their luscious tomato selections and gardeners choose new varieties to grow. (Or we find our way to online seed catalogs after the holidays).  And it’s all about flavor in the luscious descriptions. How many ways can tomato flavor be described?

Tomato flavor is trending on numerous garden blogs. Google blogs + tomato flavor for a sampling. My recent favorite was Tomato Flavor Explained at Harvest to Table. Read and enjoy as you anticipate summer tomato moments.

Tomato flavor is a balance of acid and sugar recognized by the tongue and the effect of volatile compounds within the fruit that cause aroma recognized by the nose. Simply put, the human perception of tomato flavor involves the integration of taste and smell.

Tomato flavor is commonly described as sweet, tart, tangy or balanced. Tomato flavor is sometimes also described as “classic tomato flavor” or “old-fashioned tomato flavor.” And the flavor of some tomatoes is described as mild or bland.
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In My San Diego Garden & Kitchen 1-18-16