We all know that off season tomatoes can taste awful (I’ve heard people complain they taste like cardboard), but I thought this is mostly because they’re picked before they ripe and they are ripened with ethanol gas. However, a recent article in Science suggests that the loss in flavor is the price we pay for having prettier uniformly colored tomatoes. The gene mutation that makes tomatoes uniformly colored inactivated a different gene that is responsible for the sugar and carotenoids content in the mature tomato. If you want to read more about it, here is the link to the NYTimes article (the source for the picture in above) and for those with access to Science, the original article can be found here.
This explains why sometimes even locally grown, naturally ripened tomatoes from farmers markets still don’t taste the same as the ones I used to enjoy from my mom’s garden in the summer. Now I know to not judge a tomato by its appearance and search for the imperfect, green-ring bearing tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes are obviously the best, but they’re not always easy to find.