Notice how some of these tomatoes have unripe-looking tops? Those “green shoulders” are actually the keys to flavor.
The tomato is the vegetable (or fruit, if you must) that we love to hate. We know how good it can be and how bad it usually is. And everybody just wants to know: How did it get that way?
Today, scientists revealed a small but intriguing chapter in that story: a genetic mutation that seemed like a real improvement in the tomato’s quality, but which actually undermined its taste.
Before we get to the mutation, though, let’s start with the old tomatoes — the varieties that people grew a century or more ago.