Author Topic: Tomato Flavor and Tomato Flavor Breeding  (Read 741 times)

William S.

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Tomato Flavor and Tomato Flavor Breeding
« on: 2021-12-26, 12:50:10 PM »
Reading Craig LeHoullier's book and his tomato flavor descriptions are very interesting. He claims that flavor is somewhat independent of color. I prior conception is that red tomatoes, bicolor tomatoes, etc. tend to cluster. However, have found red tomatoes in the XL line of the promiscuous tomato project that tasted great. Also have found some weird off tastes and last summer I saved seed from three plants I thought had particularly good flavor. One relatively ordinary, one very fruity with hardly any seed, and one with seed and wonderful flavor. Next year I plan to grow out the latter and will thus really be deep diving into flavor breeding.

I want to start doing tomato tastings. Covid be gone!

I am curious what the potential is for short season tomatoes and flavor diversity.

« Last Edit: 2021-12-26, 01:59:00 PM by William S. »
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Steph S

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Re: Tomato Flavor and Tomato Flavor Breeding
« Reply #1 on: 2021-12-26, 05:49:35 PM »
My preconceptions about tomato flavor have changed completely over the past decade.  And my preferences have changed too.
I always associated the red tomato with "classic" flavors, I guess some combination of a strong umami and a balance of tangy and sweet.
Then I discovered the range of complexity and combinations of flavors, especially brought out by sweetness, which don't lean nearly so hard on the classic umami, even some don't really taste like 'tomatoes', they are reminiscent of other fruits instead.
I agree that flavor and color aren't exactly linked.
I associated yellow and bicolor with lighter, fruitier tastes, but over the years I've had some yellow tomatoes that taste exactly like red ones.  In a blind test, I would've guessed red.
I do think that gf makes a contribution to flavor that is distinctive and may be 'guessable' in some cases at least.
Even in an F1 involving gf/- it seems to add a richer taste.
Some Beta orange tomatoes taste 'carroty'.   
A lot of tangerine orange tomatoes have a unique mild flavor which may be from the prolycopene, IDK.
But there are a ton of 'flavor' compounds in tomatoes that have nothing to do with color at all.

William S.

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Re: Tomato Flavor and Tomato Flavor Breeding
« Reply #2 on: 2021-12-26, 09:13:14 PM »
Craig Includes a top 10 List in his book.
Nepal, Yellow Oxheart, Polish, Green Giant, Sun Gold F1, Lucky Cross (His own work), Lillian's Yellow Heirloom, Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, and Mexico Midget.

The only one of those I can remember tasting for sure is Sun Gold F1. I like Sun Gold I also like most of the descendants of Sungold I've tasted. I can't rule out having never tried Cherokee Purple and Brandywine if so, I don't know and I don't know how different Mexico Midget is from other pimpinillifolium types.

My top flavor varieties would be Amethyst Cream, Coyote, every stable yellow, red bicolor I've tasted about equally, terrior galapagos, Sun Gold F1, maybe some of the XL red line of Joseph's promiscuous project, and definitely the orange bicolor tropical fruit promiscuous project segregate from 2021.

We had a Green Berkeley Tie Dye gifted us last summer, I saved some seeds, huge tomato. Can't remember if it was spectacular flavor but it was good. Huge was the overwhelming factor though.

I can't remember how I feel particularly about some of the green tomatoes I've tried- they were fun for variety for sure. Also, the only white slicer I've ever grown was fun but not necessarily remarkable flavor wise.



« Last Edit: 2022-01-09, 05:22:41 PM by William S. »
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Steph S

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Re: Tomato Flavor and Tomato Flavor Breeding
« Reply #3 on: 2021-12-27, 07:15:48 AM »
I will probably never grow most of the top ten on Craig's list because they are too long season for us, even in a greenhouse.  The famous large fruited heirlooms are worth growing though, as a reference point for great tastes.   I do think that flavor varies depending on the season and climate, so I wouldn't discount the possibility of finding others that are better suited and also serve to breed for exceptional taste and large fruit.
I know Karen Oliver has done some great work with Lucky Cross, and some of them may be earlier enough for me to enjoy here.  I did grow Karma Pink which was an excellent tomato with lots of complexity for a small fruit, but they were really late compared to my own lines, and suffered from the miserable cold year it happened to be.  I'd like to try her others when I'm anticipating a warm summer.

Cherokee Purple is the only one listed that I know, it's one of a group of outstanding black beefs that taste very similar, with a sweetness that brings out the complexity, and the great silky texture that you only get with beefs.  We have grown a number of them here,  Vorlon didn't like the cold and was stingy, Indian Stripe did the best for me so that is the one I used for breeding.  CP had the largest fruits, for us, but it was unreliable having off years with low production.  All of them are 'end of season' fruit for us here, even in a greenhouse.  Black Cherry is the other black parent I used for flavor, and does seem to produce pretty consistently tasty offspring.  The downside is that it has been used by a lot of breeders, so I suppose we are risking a 'bottleneck' by overusing the same parents.  Overall I like blacks, and there are lots with flavor potential.
Pink Berkeley Tie Die for example is a great black, with a distinctive flavor all its own.  They sadly have zero shelf life, going from primo ripe to a puddle of mush quite suddenly. 
I haven't really explored the green-when-ripe taste that people are so excited about.  Grew Malachite Box once, and did not enjoy the anxiety of "when is it ripe".   ::)

I would love to try the large yellows on his list.  We grew several from Eastern European sources, which are a bit earlier.  My favorite yellows have been cherries - Galinas, Medovaya Kaplya - with a more intense sweet fruity taste. Fred Hempel's Blush is another really good one, but you have to pick at a certain point to get optimal flavor.     But some other yellows I found very different, tasting more like a red (in my mind!) with more tang and umami.   I got a huge range of different tastes coming from a cross between divergent tasting yellows.  I agree with you that bicolor I've grown have been consistently pleasant and fruity-sweet. 

I think unusual flavors can often come from the crosses with wild relatives.  Coyote for example, and another similar cherry I grew, taste downright wierd.  I didn't personally like either of them but I appreciate that others do.  The white "Lotos" had a similar hint of IDK odd flavor which I didn't mind but was not as enthused as others.   

I don't know where the 'other fruit' tastes come from, but there are many examples.  Tangerine fruit tend to taste a bit 'melony' to me.  Anna Russian was one of the first different tasting tomatoes I ever grew - it tasted more like watermelon than what I expected from a tomato.

I had an F2 segregate with 'tropical fruit' taste in a cross of Zolotoe Serdtse and Indian Stripe, but didn't recover it in half dozen F3 and F4 - and didn't find a determinate either.  That is the same line that I recovered some determinates from in 2021, so perhaps will get interesting flavors from those down the line.  I hope yours turns up in the next generation, William. 
Would you consider stabilizing a 'tropical fruit' tasting tomato?


William S.

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Re: Tomato Flavor and Tomato Flavor Breeding
« Reply #4 on: 2021-12-27, 09:29:52 AM »
Well stablizing that tropical fruit taste is kind of a main goal for 2022. Or at least finding out whatever more a grow out of 100+ seeds from that plant can tell me. The plant was in my large 2022 grow out block of Joseph Lofthouse's promiscuous project elites. It has open anther cones and exserted stigmas. It has at least the possibility of obligate outcrossing. Even if it out crossed at say 30% that could mean 30% of its offspring could have other flavors. I'm not convinced the 2022 grow out will capture that flavor for sure. It is even possible the flavor I tasted is somehow dependent on heterozygosity. That may be the case with sun gold F1, there are lots of dehybridizations on the market. Craig asserts none of them are as good. I haven't tried many but my own segregants I've grown taste good. I did get one ossi registered one I think to grow out in 2022.

Interestingly Blush, black cherry, and Galina were all Christmas presents that I got this year. Haven't grown them previously.
« Last Edit: 2021-12-27, 09:37:40 AM by William S. »
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Steph S

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Re: Tomato Flavor and Tomato Flavor Breeding
« Reply #5 on: 2021-12-27, 11:37:01 AM »
Yeah I have wondered about flavor and heterozygosity.  Like you say, Sungold is a common example, where it's not easily recovered in a stable OP. 

OTOH I have had several lines that were surprisingly stable for good taste genetics even from early generations and remained so, with only a few outliers turning up that didn't meet taste criteria.  Siblings in those lines were very subtle to distinguish and choose a 'best' representative.
Other lines, you need to dig deeper by growing more plants.   Even a sibling F2 line, compared to the strangely stable ones, might take ten or a dozen plants to find a couple that are outstanding for taste against a background of very similar and 'good but not remarkable' sibs.

Then with the taste divergent parents, you can really produce a wild array of F2 tastes, and again in F3, still segregating F4!   IDK if F5s will start to settle down.  Just the sheer number of flavor components is enough to make it a crazy lottery.
So it may just be a bit of a coin toss, as to whether the important flavor genetics are recessive or dominant, or both parents have in common the same recessive trait(s), or they might have traits epistatic to one another (!).  Or QTL's that add and or subtract from one another...

The outcrossing issue is something else.  Obligate outcrossing would pretty much rule out a repeat of your tropical taste in next generation, although not impossible it could turn up again in a population of outcrossing siblings of that line.  Did you get lots of fruit set on it?   

You should definitely try those three cherries.  High taste ratings generally among tomato growers, not just me.

William S.

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Re: Tomato Flavor and Tomato Flavor Breeding
« Reply #6 on: 2021-12-27, 01:27:28 PM »
I didn't get a huge amount of fruit set. I had the parent in a row that didn't get as much water as some others and the plant was small. So I think I have somewhere around 200 seeds. If I get good germination that could mean lots of plants though. If it had been a big plant, I could have thousands of seeds and be direct seeding them for 2022! That may yet happen in 2023!

I'll be interested to taste those three. I have exploded in my tomato hobby but as a tomato collector I still have a lot of boring red short season tomatoes despite some significant additions. I'm not sure if I can grow a lot of those long season best flavored tomatoes Craig recommends. Reading Craigs book it is really clear how a good collection can inform breeding.

Looking up the dwarfs I've obtained for 2022 yesterday it was interesting to see Green Giant in the background of Dwarf Kelley Green. Craig said in his podcast that the whole Sneezy family and everything they've crossed with green giant turned out tasty.

I suppose overusing certain tasty parents might lead to some genetic bottlenecking, but I think making crosses in general is good for tomato diversity.

It seems to me like the dwarf tomato project may have been a little over focused on heirloom x heirloom crosses for that same reason. Also, if there is some vulnerability in the genes for dwarfism that could ultimately be bad! Though it's possible that rugose dwarfism may not be monophyletic in its source as it can't seemingly all be tracked back to one variety. 

I say crossing tomatoes broadly is probably a good way to go with tomato breeding. Though the wild species work is very long term! I feel like the domestic x domestic crosses are yielding very fun results in the F2. Domestic x Wild I think the BH x W4 crosses were the start of edibility in the habrochaites crosses Joseph made. Seems like either really large grow outs, time, and dilution can be necessary. Though if some amazing flavors and other features also come from the wild it may be worth it in the long run! If I got some LA2329 crosses this year it may be some time before fuzzy insect resistant edible tomatoes result!

« Last Edit: 2021-12-27, 01:49:56 PM by William S. »
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Steph S

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Re: Tomato Flavor and Tomato Flavor Breeding
« Reply #7 on: 2021-12-27, 07:21:01 PM »
I must admit that I grew a pimpinellifolium once - the taste was so revolting, I couldn't eat a single fruit.   So ended any thoughts of starting from scratch and breeding with wild relatives.   Being dependent on a greenhouse to grow tomatoes here,  I don't have the space to grow things that aren't an edible crop, so I just have to breed with bona fide already tamed tomatoes, for something we can eat at every stage of the process.

IDK what to think about bottlenecks in tomatoes, which seem to be so diverse in so many ways that matter. 

But still I have no doubt that you'll find some really exotic tastes in those wide wild crosses. :)

William S.

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Re: Tomato Flavor and Tomato Flavor Breeding
« Reply #8 on: 2021-12-27, 07:46:37 PM »
I am not an adventurous eater like Joseph. I haven't managed to bring myself to try a peruvianum, penellii, habrochaites, or arcanum all of which I have grown and gotten good seed back from. I don't think I tried any of the hybrids Joseph made very seriously until 2020 when they got good. In 2021 I was pickier with them though. I think I was just so excited to finally have something tasty looking from all that unpalatable tomato growing in 2017-2019 that I wasn't too critical in 2020. Now after being picky in 2021, I have a couple lines with one year of selection for no off tastes from all that work.

I guess I haven't grown a wide enough range of pimpinillifolium as the few I've grown seemed ok. Though not as good as Craig seems to think Mexico Midget is! Just kind of run of the mill red tomato flavor is what I recall.

One caveat is that I just realized I do not have that full of a collection of existing tomato flavors. I thought it was pretty good with such exotic things as Big Hill, Pineapple, Green Zebra, Michael Pollan, Blue Gold, Blue Ambrosia, White Shah, Coyote, Terrior Cheesemanii and of course my own Mission Mountain Sunrise but all the bicolors taste about the same to me. Most of my oranges are descendants of Sungold F1 and kind of have elements of that same flavor. I think that is more or less how I would describe exserted orange as well and I've wondered if that could be the mystery donor. The yellows mostly taste good with occasional exceptions- off tastes, the reds all about tasted the same to me with slight variation and the occasional eye opener. For instance, I have a packet of what I would consider a nice, flavored red cherry tucked away from an older Joseph Lofthouse mix and the first XL line red I tasted in 2020 just tasted so smooth. So I might not know what I am talking about when I find something nice in the wild cross segregates. Wish I had Craig Lehouillier to come to a taste testing! Or Joseph and Carol from their writings I suspect their palates are much more sophisticated than mine. I might have an idea for a local tasting though. It would be really neat if I could get some community selection going in my valley. 
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Steph S

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Re: Tomato Flavor and Tomato Flavor Breeding
« Reply #9 on: 2021-12-27, 08:44:39 PM »
I have a small core panel of tasters who get roped in to the selection process, and the OP trials.  It really helps. 
When a taste selection is confirmed independently by three people, I feel confident about it.
Always hoping not to hear those three damning words... "It's a tomato". :P ;D

William S.

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Re: Tomato Flavor and Tomato Flavor Breeding
« Reply #10 on: 2022-01-09, 11:59:44 AM »
https://m.facebook.com/groups/562461940798897/permalink/1536513983393683/?m_entstream_source=feed_mobile&anchor_reactions=true

Not sure how many folks can look at this? Facebook group people listing best tasting tomatoes. I see a few familiar names including some I have seed to try in 2022. Including Brad's atomic grape and dwarf Fred's tie dye. Also, a similar posting about earlies on the same group which makes me think there might be some early dwarfs that Victory seed lists as 80 DTM.

« Last Edit: 2022-01-09, 03:23:17 PM by William S. »
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William S.

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Re: Tomato Flavor and Tomato Flavor Breeding
« Reply #11 on: 2022-05-13, 09:27:57 PM »
One thing on my mind in regards to flavor is bicolors. I have grown yellow marbled with red bicolors for years now. An former boss and friend recommended pineapple and it is good but I honestly can't tell the difference or much between pineapple, big hill, blue gold or my MMS line.

Some of exserted orange are orange bicolors and some promiscuous project tomatoes are orange bicolors of which I found a good one last year I really liked with persimmon notes. I think the heirloom persimmon is an orange bicolor. Atomic Sunset is an orange bicolor trying it for the first time.

Also trying Brad's atomic Grape and the sister line Atomic Fusion which are both green when ripe bicolors for the first time. They have a good reputation flavor wise so I am excited to try them.

Which brings me to a sort of question. Does the bicolor trait generally improve flavor? Perhaps by adding some depth of complexity?
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Andrew Barney

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Re: Tomato Flavor and Tomato Flavor Breeding
« Reply #12 on: 2022-05-13, 10:08:57 PM »
Really interesting discussion.

I'm really a fan of the green shoulders gene, it really seems to be present in many of the cherry tomatoes I prefer. Anyone focusing on that? Anyone against it? Not sure what gene that is.

I'm still not sure what the difference between a dwarf and determinate tomato is or whether having both is preferred. Since people seem to say dwarf tomatoes have more foliar diseases,  but since I live in an arid climate diseases are not generally an issue for me, nor can i breed for disease resistance.

I think there could be some linkage between color and taste,  bit perhaps not always. At some level the biochemistry probably has a flavor.

The pimpinellifolium that i sent William should be a pretty wild strain and i personally found it to taste awful. I have a suspicion coyote and other similar ones are probably hybridized with domestics and may have much better flavor,  though I haven't tried them.

The wild ones like pennellii have scent and flavor compounds that are not found in domestic tomatoes and as such have the potential for both unique good flavors and really bad ones. Each species may have some differences and some overlap, but pennellii has the most diversity and unique ones.

I noticed Craig's descriptions might be "suspect", or at least need decoding. I think what he calls "intense" might mean zangy and acidic. His vocabulary could be either helpful or hindering.

Multiple tasters is a good idea. Found out last year a yellow watermelon that tasted mostly good to me with a hint of funkiness tasted awful to my wife and 1 year old daughter. I am a non-bitter taster for the PTC compound and think they could taste the bitterness when I could not. I am also a recessive taster for cilantro hating the chemical taste and even feeling like my tongue goes numb. How this relates to tomato breeding I have no idea,  but I figure if a tomato tastes really good to all of us then it won't matter if it tastes different to me than someone else.

William S.

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Re: Tomato Flavor and Tomato Flavor Breeding
« Reply #13 on: 2022-05-13, 11:21:14 PM »
I plan to grow and taste a lot of pimpinillifolium type tomatoes this year. Craig called Mexico Midget a top 10 flavor tomato like a beefsteak packed into a teensy package. Incidentally the plant is growing very fast. Coyote which is probably a domestic with some pimpinillifolium introgression was on something like my top 10 to fifteen list in 2017 and remains a core part of my collection because of a combination of good flavor and earliness. However, it does have some off notes about it.

I just found out that Golden Currant is considered by some to be a possible Sungold ancestor via Adaptive Seeds website and I am growing a strain from HRSeeds which since it has the same name might be the same tomato.

I am growing at least three other red currants including the strain from Andrew. Some of them for specific known resistances. What I want to know is, at least to my palette. Can I tell the difference between the red currants? Are they all good? Are some of them bad? Notably I am seeing some extreme leaf variation between accessions which intrigues me greatly. I had this preconceived notion of a distinct pimpinillifolium type leaf. It doesn't seem to be consistent with some of these new accessions including the two with known resistances. I had sort of expected all variation to be sort of silent and the plants to be visually interchangeable.
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Adrian

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Re: Tomato Flavor and Tomato Flavor Breeding
« Reply #14 on: 2022-05-14, 12:00:20 AM »
I want cross tomato with gf and hp2!

A determinate tomato is just a plant who stop this grow and who did ramifications under.After nine steps of leafs she did a flower bunch of fruits instead of new leafs.
Advantage: have uniform maturity  in industrial grow.

« Last Edit: 2022-05-14, 12:06:01 AM by Adrian »