Years tinkering with the juicy and also plump Jersey tomato has led to a harder and also less tasty variation of the fruit. Now, complying with an idea indigenous a Campbell’s Soup manager, scientists at Rutgers University are trying come bring ago the original



It could seem strange the the state known for mobsters, gas refineries and also toxic superfund sites likewise gave the world one the the many delicious fruits known to man: the plump, red and juicy Jersey tomato.

“I so miss out on Jersey tomatoes. There space none as great anywhere else,” said Jennie Phipps, a writer who stayed in South Jersey and also Delaware because that 17 years however now lives in Michigan. “I prefer them sliced through a little salt, and also I love tomato sandwiches on totality wheat with several mayonnaise. And I’m happy come eat one similar to an apple.”

but Phipps might not recognize the Jersey tomatoes offered today. Lock harder and less juicy 보다 they offered to be, and also that’s no accident.

Food scientists have been tinkering through the molecular framework of the tomato because that years, so tomato processors who currently harvest by machine could have actually fruit that easily falls turn off the stem. Scientists likewise thickened the tomato’s skin and interior walls so lock were more durable during the shipping process.

All that tinkering has impacted the fruit’s taste, say Jersey tomato connoisseurs. End the critical 30 years, the Jersey tomato, while quiet delicious, is just a shadow of its previous self.

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Campbell Soup Co helped build the initial Jersey tomato. Photograph: Michael Neelon(misc)/AlamyBut scientists at Rutgers university want to readjust that – they’re do the efforts to bring the Jersey tomato ago to the mouthwatering heyday.

The original Jersey tomato is the offspring of plant biologists functioning for Rutgers University and also the Campbell Soup Co, who collaborated in 1934 to create a tomato the was plump and juicy sufficient for tomato soup while being resistant come pests.

They come up with a range that was so popular that it came to be a key ingredient because that Campbell’s and Heinz ketchup. By the 1950s, 70% of the tomatoes grown in the us were Jersey tomato – additionally known together the Rutgers tomato.

“You don’t understand how good they were until you’ve tasted one. They yes, really were just out the this world,” stated William Hlubik, a faculty member through the Rutgers cooperative Research & Extension.

Hlubik would certainly know. He prospered up top top a farm in Chesterfield, new Jersey, the started cultivation tomatoes to feeding the demand of the huge tomato processors. In the summer, currently of trucks would certainly go back and soon on the local roads, transferring tomatoes native the fields to Campbell’s soup tree in Camden.

“Sometimes they would have baskets and collect the tomatoes. Periodically they would certainly just ago the truck as much as the farm, and the tomatoes would certainly go up the conveyer,” Hlubik said. “Back in the 1950s, the Rutgers tomato was the best thing, due to the fact that of that is productivity and also its flavor, and with the Campbell’s soup plant being nearby, anyone was growing them.”

it wasn’t just agrobusiness that hurt the taste of the Jersey tomato, Hlubik said. Plants naturally change over time; the insects and also diseases that prey on plants change. Diseases mutate and become an ext virulent or aggressive. Scientists have to constantly breed a range of new material just to maintain the status quo, that said.

“Over time, you will do it see alters in any type of line, even if it is it’s tomatoes or noþeles else. Epigenetics, the environment, all these determinants outside the continual genetics of the plant can influence how genes space expressed,” Hlubik said. “If yes a adjust in the diseases attacking the plant, you need to readjust the plant.”

The idea come resurrect the Jersey tomato was actually sparked by a woman from Campbell’s, period Hall, who had actually headed up the company’s soup product development. She was at a tomato tasting sponsored by food scientists at Rutgers about five years back when she do the suggestion.


As it turns out, Campbell’s had actually retained seeds from the 2 varieties used to develop the Rutgers tomato. They were the Marglobe and also the JTD, called for Dr man T Dorrance, a chemist who served as Campbell’s very first president and invented box condensed soup.

Campbell’s had kept the seed in one archive since its research team would periodically plant different seed ranges to watch if it might improve the yield and health that the that company tomatoes, i beg your pardon are currently grown in California. The agency was additionally concerned around taste.

“You’d hear human being say, ‘The tomato soup doesn’t taste as good as it used to taste,’ so wednesday go earlier and tree plots in California to watch if we could improve the taste,” room said. “But our goal was to get tomatoes that were higher yield. Flavor wasn’t necessarily an attribute us were trying come improve.”

Hall also believes Campbell’s soup no taste choose it used to, but she states it’s partly because they no longer use fresh tomatoes that have actually been recently harvested. They currently use a tomato dough made from tomatoes that have actually been preserved in sterile packaging.

After Hall’s conversation with Rutgers, scientists began planting Marglobe and JTD seeds from Campbell’s archive. The two varieties were climate cross pollinated again, as they to be in 1934. Simply put, pollen native a masculine flower that one range was supplied to pollinate a woman flower from the various other variety. As soon as the cross-pollinated tree bore fruit, the seed were bring away out and also used come create around 250 new plants.

Researchers are now trying to number out i m sorry of those 250 plants is best, and it’s not an easy task. Regardless of having every come indigenous the same two varieties of tomato plants, every of the resulting crossed plants room genetically different. Rutgers tree researcher Peter Nitzsche claims to think the the Marglobe and also JTD together parents, and the 250 plants together their kids – they might share characteristics with their parents, but each room assembled in a unique way.

“Whenever you cross two things – 2 parents, 2 dogs, two various tomatoes – the genetic mix of every progeny is always slightly different. Over there are potentially thousands, or millions, of combinations, indigenous each hereditary cross,” Nitzsche said.

scientists narrowed the 250 plants down to about 20, climate 10, climate five, and now three. They’ve to be holding taste tests throughout the state, asking occupants to rate the tomatoes based upon their sweetness, flavor, acidity and texture. The final taste test will be in a week or two, as scientists sort with the data. They hope to have a winner following month, in time for Rutgers’ 250th anniversary next year. The seed of the winner will be available for sale in January.

“This will not be the old tomato, yet the old tomato enhanced – at least we hope,” Nitzsche said.

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If the anything favor the old Jersey tomato, the formula will be missing only one thing: the salt.