Get flavour back by growing your own

We recently harvested the ugliest tomato in the world.

It had a diameter of about 10 centimetres with a gaping hole in the middle, reminiscent of an oversized doughnut with swollen varicose veins.

It was scarred and puckered and its ruby-red and olive-green streaks combined to give it a dark brown/black hue.

It was incredibly unappealing and we were tempted to give it the big heave-ho.

But it was our progeny and we thought we had to give it one chance. We closed our eyes and took a bite.

It was a revelation; the most delicious tomato we have ever eaten. It was sweet and supple, moist and rich, simply oozing with flavour.

It was unbelievable that something so ugly could taste so good.

The tomato was the first to ripen and all its siblings - which did not quite measure up in the ugly stakes but were similarly scarred and puckered - have been equally delicious.

Anyone who laments the loss of flavour in the tomatoes on offer in supermarkets will identify with our excitement.

The tomato was a Black Krim and the plant had come from The Diggers Club in Victoria.

Bunnings is no favourite of The Diggers Club but it was the resident horticulturist at the local store who cornered hubby - who grew tomatoes commercially in another life - saying: "Hey Garry, I have something very special for you to try."

It was July and she recommended an early planting in August.

But a cold snap must have hit during the first flowering, affecting the setting of the fruit and giving our ugly duckling its extraordinary shape and texture.

The trade-off for the early planting is we have been eating these delicious fruit bombs for the past month.

The Diggers Club began in 1978 with the aim of rescuing the wonderful old varieties of fruit and vegetables that the supermarket chains were refusing to stock.

The club encourages people to grow their own fruit and vegies using the best plants and garden traditions, and eschews the use of chemicals and genetically modified seeds.

Which all seems very worthy.

It's not just tomatoes that can be entirely lacking in flavour these days; much of the fruit sold in supermarkets is similarly bland and tasteless.

It's all about looking good, extending the season and making the varieties hard-skinned so they transport without bruising. Flavour just doesn't seem to rate any longer.

As a result, we rarely buy peaches, plums or apricots and regard pawpaws and pineapples with suspicion.

Rockmelons, honeydew melons and watermelons are in the same boat. They are bred to ripen early and handle the long distances between farm gate and market; too bad about the taste.

Occasionally you get lucky with a punnet of juicy strawberries or a sweet pineapple but it's always a lottery.

Apples are equally troublesome. How can they claim new season fruit when they have been sitting in cold storage for months and are trotted out throughout the year?

Bah humbug.

We'll dig in with The Diggers Club and endeavour to put the flavour back in our fruit and vegies. And the uglier the better.


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