30 compounds contribute to a tomato's flavor.

30 compounds contribute to a tomato's flavor.

It's in the Genes
Heirloom tomatoes are bred for taste, texture, flavor and color. Tomatoes bred to ripen evenly (like many in the grocery store) are less sweet.

Quality Trumps Quantity
Many heirloom plants only produce a half-dozen fruits at a time, while industrial breeds can churn out 20 apiece. The problem: as you increase the number of fruits on a plant, "you're diluting out the flavor," says tomato biologist Harry Klee, Ph.D., at the University of Florida.

Vine Time Matters
"You need time on the vine to deepen flavor and texture," says Travis Milton, a celebrated chef in Richmond, VA, who grows most of the tomatoes for his restaurant, Comfort. Achieving fruit that's ripened past the mealiness that comes from early harvest takes time, and since most supermarket tomatoes are picked hard and green they don't have as long on the vine to develop.

July/August 2015