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Food of the month - Blue Tomatoes

June 2014

Blue tomatoes? Sounds like a step too far doesn’t it? After all, tomatoes are bright red and have been part of our normal diet since childhood.

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In fact, blue tomatoes are more than just a gimmick and talking point to add new decoration to food.

The “blue” tomato was first produced at Oregon State University in America’s far west. Researchers there were already experimenting heavily to try to find cold-tolerant tomatoes. As part of their general work, they used normal breeding techniques to cross-pollinate various varieties. A member of the team isolated a number of genes in wild tomatoes including a blue tomato and it proved to grow well.

Further research indicated these tomatoes were surprising high in anthocyanin (known to possess good levels of antioxidant properties) and also were more insect-resistant than many other species of common tomato.

From these early beginnings, in 2012 the university developed blue tomato seeds which became commercially available under the title “Indigo Rose Tomato”. Interestingly, the tomato naturally is red, and it is only when exposed to sunslight that the outer skin turns the blue colour. The inside remains red or a deep shade of pink.

Since then horticulturalists at the John Innes Centre in Britain have worked with clever gene slicing techniques and have incorporated genes from snapdragons into tomatoes to increase further the anthocyanin levels.

Israeli scientists have also bred an anthocyanin coloured tomato named Black Galaxy.

While the first blue tomatoes were novelties, today they are serious plants and many different types are coming onto the market such as Blue Beauty and Blue Gold. Their popularity is increasing because of course, along with their extra anthocyanin, blue tomatoes also contain all the goodness of normal tomatoes. There have been comments that they can taste just a little more bitter than the more common varieties of red tomatoes but more research is being done and soon any bitterness will no doubt be eliminated.

They are sometimes available in major shops and there are specialist fruit and vegetable shops that may carry them. If you want to try growing your own, Amazon has some blue tomato seeds for sale. They are called Smurf Tomato, P20 Blue and are said to have a subtle, aromatic and fruity flavor.


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The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

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