Author Topic: Modern Trends in Vegetable Breeding  (Read 559 times)

Ferdzy

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 253
  • Karma: 14
    • View Profile
    • Seasonal Ontario Food
  • Koppen zone: Dfb
  • Hardiness Zone: CDN 5/6; USA 4/5
Modern Trends in Vegetable Breeding
« on: 2021-02-06, 11:09:43 AM »
Just finished lunch and have to let off a rant that built up while I was eating it. I made a salad that included cilantro as an integral part of it. Seeing as it's February around here, I bought the cilantro at the grocery store.

Salad was only just okay, because the cilantro spoiled it. IT HAD NO BLOODY FLAVOUR.  Okay; a little. A faint, feeble echo of the lively, soapy flavour that it ought to have had. I'm not sick. Everything else tasted like food.

I can only suppose that this was deliberate on somebody's part. Like, somebody said; "Let's breed cilantro so that it has no bloody flavour. It will make it more popular and we will sell more."

I don't think I'm allowed to say what I think about this asshole on this board, but I'm sure you can all imagine.

I'd like to think this asshole is wrong, but I have a horrid suspicion that they are right - they will sell more cilantro, to people who want to think of themselves a sophisticated eaters of cilantro but who can't actually stand the stuff. I've noticed the same problem with various peppers (or seeds for peppers which is even more maddening - you wait and work for 8 months to be deeply disappointed) - in particular Jalapeņos and Scotch Bonnets which look just like the original and taste like nothing much. It's happening to arugula too.

It makes me think of the time I ordered a Reuben sandwich in a restaurant. "How did you like it?" asked the waitress. "It was okay, but needed more sauerkraut." I said. "Oh," she said, "We don't like to put too much in because a lot of people don't like sauerkraut." I said, "Well in that case, don't they order something else? It's a sauerkraut (amongst other things) sandwich."

So hang on to your seeds for your hot peppers and your bitter/zingy herbs and vegetables. The flavour vampires are coming. They are here actually, damn their plaid (but tastefully arranged in neutral colours) flannel hides.


Steph S

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 255
  • Karma: 14
    • 47.5N 52.8W Newfoundland AgCan zone 5a/USDA zone 4 Koppen Dfb
    • View Profile
  • Koppen zone: Dfb
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA zone 4
Re: Modern Trends in Vegetable Breeding
« Reply #1 on: 2021-02-06, 04:40:36 PM »
Ferdzy, that cilantro might have bolted but they cut the flowers off to get another cut off it and sell.  The cilantro once it bolts has very scanty flavor like that.   I have noticed it before and it's a sad, sad reminder of itself.
So it may not be a breedin thing at all, just a 'supermarket produce cheat' thing, from some dead-of-winter greenhouse.

Now the cool thing to do, if you dast, is to breed a cilantro that NEVER LOSES FLAVOR when it bolts.  ;D  Bring it on, I say.

I had a sandwich for supper tonight, and I went into the greenhouse and found a few non wilted or frosted leaves.  Rat tail radish leaf, surprisingly mild (in fact it hardly tasted of radish at all).  And a few snipped stalks of infant celeriac tops (a product of last season's neglect).  These were pretty coarsely strong flavored.  Indeed I recommend celeriac tops, should you find that celery is losing its savor.  I wish I could say the same of the roots but alas!! they were a huge disappointment.  So mild flavored it was pointless to cook them, the taste just disappeared.
I had some serious expectations because a few years ago I ate the roots of some Utah celery that I'd kept for seed and it was amazing - smoky, delicious, out of this world.  So I do believe the "Brilliant" was sorely cheated by its breeder.  :P


reed

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 767
  • Karma: 50
  • Narrow Ridge above the Ohio River zone 6a
    • View Profile
Re: Modern Trends in Vegetable Breeding
« Reply #2 on: 2021-02-07, 07:10:46 AM »
I have no doubt that plant breeding for the masses is in play, especially if the problem is in stuff you grow yourself from purchased seeds. How and when it is grown is definitely part to it too. I've done experiments where planted seeds from store bought plastic looking tasteless tomatoes and grown outside in the sun they were fine.

Right now I have what we call pickle weed which is actually wood sorrel growing in my kitchen window. It just came up in the pot of herbs I brought in last fall. It's growing and blooming nicely, pretty little house plant. It  looks exactly like when it grows outside but the little "pickles" taste like nothing at all.

Ferdzy

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 253
  • Karma: 14
    • View Profile
    • Seasonal Ontario Food
  • Koppen zone: Dfb
  • Hardiness Zone: CDN 5/6; USA 4/5
Re: Modern Trends in Vegetable Breeding
« Reply #3 on: 2021-02-07, 09:23:04 AM »
Steph, I'll take note about that Utah celery. I have some because I've mostly giving up trying to grow celery, and am still persevering with the celery root. Maybe I'll throw a little into the mix next time I plan to grow it out.

And yeah, quite a few people think the problem with my cilantro was growing conditions. Apparently there's a lot of lousy cilantro out there at the moment. Oh well; it is February. Mine has always been delicious but I also let it grow when it jolly well wants to and don't try to force the issue.

Steph S

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 255
  • Karma: 14
    • 47.5N 52.8W Newfoundland AgCan zone 5a/USDA zone 4 Koppen Dfb
    • View Profile
  • Koppen zone: Dfb
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA zone 4
Re: Modern Trends in Vegetable Breeding
« Reply #4 on: 2021-02-07, 10:49:44 AM »
Yup.  The Utah root was like a stumpy forked carrot with a tan, leathery bark on it.  The Brilliant root is like a bulbous octopus with almost a carrotlike surface - delicate peel.   IDK if any will overwinter but I left a number of them out in the garden, in addition those I have still inside.
I like the idea of a dual crop - something with tops that I use occasionally for flavor, that can be cut and come and still, if you had need of it, you could dig and eat the roots.   
I grew root parsely last year as well and found it an easy crop with perfectly acceptable tops.  I made pesto with the leaves at harvest time and TBH see no notable difference cw ordinary parsely.   The roots were very mild tasting though.   Like the celeriac, I could see grating it up for a delicately flavored slaw or something, but if you cook with a few carrots in a stir fry, you won't even notice which is which.

I have to say I am fond of both types of Arugula (or at least a variety of 'how strong is it') for different purposes.  I really like Astro for the sheer bulk of fast growing leaves that are just the right intensity to use at high volume in a salad.   The smaller ones (Voyager, Dragon Tongue? come to mind) are high intensity and also smaller in volume, so really great as a seasoning for the right dish, but harder to take as the main green in a salad.
Strangely I find that the more greens I'm eating (volume wise) the more I prefer a sweeter taste.  Conversely when greens are scarce I love to have a small bit of something quite intense.  Mild greens just don't cut it unless you have a big bowl of em.

Garrett Schantz

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 326
  • Karma: 14
    • View Profile
    • Email
  • Koppen zone: Dfa
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA zone 6
Re: Modern Trends in Vegetable Breeding
« Reply #5 on: 2021-02-07, 04:28:54 PM »
Astro Arugula is Eruca sativa.
 Voyager is Diplotaxis tenuifolia, as is Dragon's Tongue Arugula.
 I am trying Dragon's tongue and Wasabi Arugula (Diplotaxis erucoides) this year.
 Wish that these had different common names. Eruca sativa tastes a bit different from things in the Diplotaxis genus.

 I will be growing Chinese Pink Celery again this year. Suppose I will look at the roots to see if there is anything of interest.

 Also Cilantro is usually described as "A distinct taste, kind of citrusy and peppery-spicy a bit, maybe in the same rough neighbourhood as lemongrass" All I ever get from cilantro is the "soapy" taste. The taste depends on a gene(or maybe more than one gene?) - some people taste a wonderful citrus-like herb - some people are left with a nasty soap taste. So most people who eat cilantro should be getting a mild lemon taste from the more bland types found at the store.
 I actually stuck one of cilantro's unripe seed pods in my mouth to see if I could get a better feel for how it tastes. Rather than calling it "soapy" I might say that the unripe pods taste and smell like stink bugs. But taste is subjective and differs person to person.
 I grow cilantro because some family members enjoy it, but it just doesn't taste appealing to me. Sorrel, parsley and most any other greens are fine. I have taken a liking to burnet - which I can't find in stores.
« Last Edit: 2021-02-07, 04:30:29 PM by Garrett Schantz »

Andrew Barney

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 514
  • Karma: 42
  • Northern Colorado, Semi-Arid Climate, USA
    • Pea Breeding, Watermelon x Citron-melon, Purple Foliage Corn, Wild Tomatoes
    • View Profile
    • My blog
    • Email
  • Koppen zone: Dfc / Dfb
  • Hardiness Zone: 5b
Re: Modern Trends in Vegetable Breeding
« Reply #6 on: 2021-02-07, 09:18:31 PM »
a little. A faint, feeble echo of the lively, soapy flavour that it ought to have had. I'm not sick. Everything else tasted like food.

I can only suppose that this was deliberate on somebody's part. Like, somebody said; "Let's breed cilantro so that it has no bloody flavour. It will make it more popular and we will sell more."

VERY INTERESTING!
 
Since i HATE cilantro because of the literal soapy flavor, this is something i might welcome. If i ever help to colonize mars i personally would lead a crusade to ban cilantro from the whole planet. An extreme stance? Yeah, but i'm okay with that. I can't tell you how many times my food has been ruined because i thought the person who prepared it did not wash their hands very well. Its a nightmare.

I once considered starting a breeding project to breed a cilantro without soapy flavor undertones. Perhaps it would still taste good to those who like cilantro, perhaps it would not. Not sure, but since i am one of those who can't stand it i feel like i am the perfect person to try. I have heard the asian cilantros from the far east may have different flavor profiles which i could work with. You rant ironically has bolstered my confidence in this idea. Maybe someday i will try. But, if there is indeed poor soapy flavor cilantro already out there, then i welcome it with open arms and hope it replaces all cilantro on the planet (at least in all restaurants).

as a side note, i have noticed how the mild jalapenos are either being mislabeled or confused with the old standard medium heat ones. I do find that frustrating.

Ferdzy

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 253
  • Karma: 14
    • View Profile
    • Seasonal Ontario Food
  • Koppen zone: Dfb
  • Hardiness Zone: CDN 5/6; USA 4/5
Re: Modern Trends in Vegetable Breeding
« Reply #7 on: 2021-02-09, 12:10:58 PM »
Andrew: "Thhhbbbblllttt!"

That's all I have to say about that!  ;D

Back on my hobbyhorse: I remembered that I bought some radishes last spring that had the nicest, crisp and watery texture. They sucked. There was no flavour to them at all. And I paid top dollar and got them from a local farm and everything.

I've ordered some pink celery too - and will be sure to check out the roots. (I actually had a dream last night about checking out various celery roots in the garden.)

Andrew Barney

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 514
  • Karma: 42
  • Northern Colorado, Semi-Arid Climate, USA
    • Pea Breeding, Watermelon x Citron-melon, Purple Foliage Corn, Wild Tomatoes
    • View Profile
    • My blog
    • Email
  • Koppen zone: Dfc / Dfb
  • Hardiness Zone: 5b
Re: Modern Trends in Vegetable Breeding
« Reply #8 on: 2021-02-17, 12:59:08 PM »
 ;) Haha.

On the cilantro front I have been contacted by a young plant breeder friend. They have told me they have a cilantro variety that is supposed to taste good but without the soapy flavor those of us with cilantro phobias hate. I have agreed to be a first test subject to evaluate this cilantro variety.

Who knows,  maybe there is room for both of us to have our cake and eat it too. I'll keep you updated if it pans out. Then maybe you can try it and see if it still has good typical cilantro flavor.

Ferdzy

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 253
  • Karma: 14
    • View Profile
    • Seasonal Ontario Food
  • Koppen zone: Dfb
  • Hardiness Zone: CDN 5/6; USA 4/5
Re: Modern Trends in Vegetable Breeding
« Reply #9 on: 2021-02-17, 01:24:28 PM »
Sounds good to me, Andrew.

Garrett Schantz

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 326
  • Karma: 14
    • View Profile
    • Email
  • Koppen zone: Dfa
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA zone 6
Re: Modern Trends in Vegetable Breeding
« Reply #10 on: 2021-02-17, 02:48:13 PM »
;) Haha.

On the cilantro front I have been contacted by a young plant breeder friend. They have told me they have a cilantro variety that is supposed to taste good but without the soapy flavor those of us with cilantro phobias hate. I have agreed to be a first test subject to evaluate this cilantro variety.

Who knows,  maybe there is room for both of us to have our cake and eat it too. I'll keep you updated if it pans out. Then maybe you can try it and see if it still has good typical cilantro flavor.

Peaceseedlings is selling Lemon Cilantro this year.

"Lemon Cilantro- Coriandrum sativum        NEW

Large seeded cultivar, from late seed saver Ampetu"

 Unsure if it is lacking - or has less of the chemical which causes the "soapiness" or if it just has a higher citronella content or whatever people seem to enjoy in cilantro.


This article talks about some fun genetics which can cause us to taste the "soapiness". https://www.britannica.com/story/why-does-cilantro-taste-like-soap-to-some-people#:~:text=Of%20course%20some%20of%20this,flavored%20aldehydes%20in%20cilantro%20leaves.

Diane Whitehead

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 229
  • Karma: 23
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Modern Trends in Vegetable Breeding
« Reply #11 on: 2021-02-19, 10:03:16 PM »
James Wong, in Grow for Flavor, wrote this:

Along with roughly a fifth of the population, I possess a copy of the gene that makes cilantro taste soapy.
Even if you are one of the same unfortunate minority, do not let it put you off cilantro roots.

Surprisingly, these contain a totally different combination of flavor chemicals, giving them a floral, sweet carrotiness much like the seeds. (called coriander). It is a key flavoring ingredient in Belgian white beer and even Coca Cola.

He then describes how to grow it for the roots and what to cook it with.  In SE Asia, the roots are used more often than the leaves.

So if you decide to breed for better tasting leaves, you won't have to throw any seedlings away - you'll still be able to enjoy the roots.
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
cool mediterranean climate  warm dry summers, mild wet winters,  70 cm rain,   sandy soil