Tuesday July 17, 2007
Major controversy surrounds the so-called ugly tomato. A man-made hybrid of some heirloom varieties, supposedly they taste much more “like a tomato” then anything else you can get. I’m not sure where the legal situation sits right now. They used to be illegal to export from Florida because of their unusual shape, though I believe the ban was recently lifted.
I spotted some at Publix the other day, and decided to try one out. Mine came individually protected in a little stretchy styrofoam net, and at $2.99/lb (I believe that’s actually a bargain for them), it set me back about a buck fifty. It came with a sticker linking to the official Ugly Ripe website, which confirms the legal status:
The new USDA rule, published in today’s [January 17, 2007] Federal Register, amends the Florida Tomato Marketing Order to exempt the UglyRipe from the shape portion of the USDA grade standards as long as the UglyRipe is grown, packed, and distributed under USDA’s Identity Preservation Program (IPP). The IPP uses the unique genetic fingerprint of a produce variety to assure that it is in fact the product claimed by its grower. The UglyRipe will still have to meet all of the other grade standards imposed under the marketing order.
This is all suitably absurd, but what about the taste? Well, I chopped up half of one into my salad, and saved the other half, which I’m munching on as I type. No worries here: it’s delicious. The skin is a little thicker then a regular tomato, and gives it a hint of leaves, and (seriously) earthy notes. I have to admit that the differences was much less dramatic in the salad. And cooked, I’d bet it disapears for all but the most discriminating marinara palate. I’d recommend picking one up and eating it sliced into wedges, sprinkled with a little salt.
Oh, and get this: the Ugly Ripe has a blog.comments powered by Disqus