Authentic tomato flavor brought back in a small Catalan town

Inma Morgado and David Bertran are strongly committed to the organic cultivation of tomatoes and the search for their authentic flavor. This couple grows different tomato varieties in the Horta de la Mercè, on the outskirts of the Catalan town of Vulpellac.

They don't only sell the most interesting traditional and unknown varieties that can be purchased in Spain; their exhaustive research has led them to acquire seeds to grow more than 120 varieties of tomatoes from different parts of the world. Obviously, they never plant all tomato varieties at once. They select the tastiest seeds that can best meet the supply and demand, taking also into account the characteristics of the land and the changing climate conditions each summer. Some of them are ancestral varieties that are very unproductive and visually unappealing, which supermarkets would reject for not complying with their aesthetic standards.

“Prices are not always an indicator of quality; the size of the products is a more relevant factor,” says Morgado. That is why Horta de la Mercè sorts the tomatoes into 4 large types, according to size and color: large colored tomatoes, medium-sized colored tomatoes, traditional red tomatoes and Cherry tomatoes.

It was inevitable for the history of Horta de la Mercé to be linked to organic farming. "It is the best way to protect the environment, rid the soil from harmful agrochemicals and obtain healthy food." This year, they have chosen to plant varieties that bring back lost flavors.

Among the most original varieties, the biologist mentions the Pineapple or Anana tomato, which is very fruity, with a very special touch of mango; the Orange Strawberry tomato, orange in color with the pointed shape of the Oxheart and a spectacular taste; the Golden Siberia, a very interesting yellow tomato from California; the Yellow Pear-shaped tomato, which, as the English name suggests, has a pear shape; the Peach Skin tomato, velvety like the fruit; the Orange Bombilla tomato, with thin skin and a sweet taste, and the Violet Jasper tomato, one of the most visually attractive varieties on the market nowadays.

Despite all this, they also cultivate the usual classics, which are brought to excellence here, as "many customers just won't buy anything but the traditional large red tomato."

Morgado claims that “of all the tomatoes consumed in Spain, only 12% have been produced within the country's borders. The problem is that the best organic items are sold to Europe because there is a demand for them there and a greater awareness. They don't mind paying a higher price.”



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