Thursday, April 03, 2008

The heart of a tomato

This is one of the little tomato seedlings which are currently reaching for the sky on my windowsill. If April is, as T S Eliot wrote, the cruellest month, one of the reasons is because some of these little ones will make it, and some just won’t. All the tiny shoots basking in the hot spring sunshine are about to have a horrid weekend – snow is forecast across the country.

But maybe this will be one of the lucky ones. It’s an old variety called Harrison’s First in the Field and I’m going to grow it outside and cross my fingers. If it turns into a tomato plant, and if there is enough sunshine in Somerset, I may get some good round healthy fruits, and then I can test out the conclusions of Heston Blumenthal's first published scientific paper.

The paper, published with academics from the University of Reading last year, observes that the pulp of the tomato, which contains the seeds, has more umami taste than the outer flesh. Umami is a Japanese word meaning "savoury" or "deliciousness", and is a proposed addition to the currently accepted four basic tastes sensed by specialised receptor cells present on the human tongue (Wikipedia). There's a whole web site devoted to this one word.

The interesting thing about this discovery is that, as you will have figured out, most recipes tell you to squeeze out the tomato seeds and throw away the centre pulp. Apparently, according to Heston et al if you do that you will be throwing out the tastiest bit of the tomato. So…not just a pretty face eh?


Toffeeapple said...

I've been saying exactly that for years, but those TV chefs must all be deaf!

~~Louise~~ said...

Hi June,
Oh my I hope those little "babies" make it.

One trick I learned when scooping out tomatoes is to make a tomato "cocktail" drink with the pulp. It works out so well especially when the tomatoes are stuffed. For example, tuna stuffed tomatoes with a tomato drink flavored with dill. Refreshing!

We Are Never Full said...

We had such a great crop of tomatoes last year... I felt like I ate them every day. It makes you realize how different the ones sold in stores are to the ones grown right in your yard. The smell, the juiciness, the taste...mmmm. good luck w/ your plants!

Jeanne said...

I'm trying my hand at tomatoes this season too... but I know from hard experience with my roses that our garden is a hotbed of greenfly, blackfly and aphids :( Any advice on how to combat these critters in such a way that you don't poison the plant (and yourself!) in the process? My seedlings are Moneymaker variety - let's see if they live up to their name ;-)

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