Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The rebirth (we sure hope) of the famed Rutgers tomato

Rutgers tomato seedling - Jennifer  Pottheiser photo

Everyone pays lip service to the juicy Jersey tomato.

Here's how tomato expert Jack Rabin describes the famed Rutgers variety that ruled summer picnics and sandwiches from the 1950s to the mid 1980s:

You’re on your way home from the Shore, you stop at a farm market, you buy some tomatoes. The car smells great. You grab a saltshaker and take a bite. You take another bite. Ahhhh…”

What happened to them?

In New Jersey Monthly, Paula Spam writes: “Blame interstate highways, which enabled produce to be trucked longer distances more quickly, but also encouraged plant scientists
to produce firmer hybrids with thicker skins and interior walls (and less taste) for improved “shippability.”

She adds: “Also blame North Carolina State University, where now-retired breeder Randolph Gardner developed high-yielding, crack-resistant hybrids that became Eastern U.S. standards by the 1990s.”

But now, after four years of “
diligently hybridizing and selecting,” three Rutgers scientists are close to recreating the greatest Jersey tomato of them all.

Tomorrow, at the
Open House and Great Tomato Tasting at Snyder Farm in Pittstown, NJ, the public will decide it the three tomato nurturers have pulled it off.

Let us know how it goes. We’ll be at the grocery store buying white bread and mayonnaise.  We can taste those Rutgers Tomato sandwiches already.

Subscribe here to view all our YouTube videos

Repost this article