I’m all in favour of boffins tinkering around with plants if they come up with improvements – greater pest resistance or better shape and colour. However, a recent horticultural breakthrough has really made me think..
We know that tomatoes and potatoes are in the same genus. Here botanical latin gives us the clue – Solanum tuberosum (potato) and Solanum lycopersicum (tomato). Looking at each individual plant, you can also see that the flowers are very similar, but who in a million years would have thought that some bright spark would have combined these two plants, so that you could harvest tomatoes at one end of a plant, and potatoes at the other and called it TomTato
Plant experts have already taken bits of their best vegetable varieties, and grafted them onto extremely vigorous-growing root stocks to produce faster growing, stronger, healthier and longer producing plants than the normal version, but this was different. Above ground, one TomTato plant is allegedly capable of producing more than 500 sweet cherry tomatoes, while at the other there will be a ‘nice crop’ (whatever that means) of spuds that can be boiled, mashed, roasted or made into chips.
While I was still reeling over this news, I set about finding out how much other tinkering has been done recently to tickle our taste buds.
If you thought that limes should be green, now there is a crop from India called the Red Lime, with a deep orangey-red skin with orange flesh, which could make your tequila really sing. As it combines both orange and sour flavours, it could also make an ideal additive for the marmalade maker.
Then there’s the Papple, a fruit that arrived from New Zealand last year which tastes like an apple with the skin and texture of a pear. Not long afterwards, M&S introduced the grango, a fruit from Spain that looks like a grape, but tastes of a mango. I’m sure that there are many others, but what do you think of a Pluot, a cross between a plum and an apricot, which is more plum than apricot? or Aprium, the other way round?
© 2014 Valerie McBride-Munro