10. May 2010 06:05
I am faced with the same question every summer, ‘I wish I could find some decent tomatoes here, where do you buy yours?’ To which I answer…and this predictably creates a confused, often contorted facial reaction, ‘The best tomatoes in Switzerland are between March and May!’
Ok, I will admit summer time is the best time for tomatoes – but only if you’re growing your own and live in an area blessed with a lot of summer sunshine. I will also admit the tomatoes I am referring to are not Swiss at all, but in fact they are Italian – and mostly from Sicily or Sardegna where the people know a thing or two about growing (and eating) tasty tomatoes.
Tomatoes need plenty of sunshine to develop their full flavor potential …and I’m not talking about the sugars which usually only account for about 3% of the total weight. No, what makes tomatoes so appealing to many are their high levels of glutamic acid – a savory acid more common to meat than plants. It is precisely this acid which creates the necessary balance of sugars and aromatic compounds. Without glutamic acid tomatoes taste…well, really bland and almost starchy.