Vine-ripe Tasti-Lee tomato creates a buzz among consumers

11/14/2011 04:25:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

A handful of California growers have grown Tasti-Lee as part of a field trial, and it seems to do well there.

"The flavor is pretty resilient under a lot of growing conditions," Scott says.

He says maintaining the initial quality will be key to expanding the brand.

The next step is to add resistance to tomato yellow leaf curl virus, tomato spotted wilt virus and Fusarium crown rot to Tasti-Lee.

Scott and fellow UF tomato breeder Sam Hutton are using marker-assisted selection to add those traits as quickly as possible, all the while keeping taste at the forefront.

"We have to make sure that when we get the new disease-resistance genes that we don't wreck anything with the flavor," Scott says.

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Miami, Fl  |  November, 15, 2011 at 10:37 AM

Who cares how they look. It's what they taste like that matters. I rarely buy tomatoes in the supermarket anymore. They look pretty, but that's about it. Very disappointing and a waste of money.

Dan schooler    
Rupert Ga  |  August, 12, 2012 at 07:47 AM

Marta..........The ugly ripe at Publix is a heirloom tomatoe. I have been buying them for seven years. They are thin skin, Juicey and taste like a tomatoe whith a mix of acid and sweetness!, Buy the large ones, Dan sr

Miami  |  November, 15, 2011 at 01:29 PM

I agree with you Marta. Try buying the Ugli Ripe tomatoes--they are usually ugly but very tasty. Also, some of the grape tomatoes are pretty good. I grow my own, out of frustration.

Miami  |  November, 15, 2011 at 01:29 PM

I agree with you Marta. Try buying the Ugli Ripe tomatoes--they are usually ugly but very tasty. Also, some of the grape tomatoes are pretty good. I grow my own, out of frustration.

FL  |  November, 17, 2011 at 02:50 PM

John, you got that right. I love the Ugly Ripe tomatoes.

Florida  |  November, 17, 2011 at 02:50 PM

I agree with John -there is no comparision! Ugly ripes rock!!

Lakeland Florida  |  November, 17, 2011 at 02:52 PM

Tasti -lees- are not so tasty. Ugly ripes are the best!

Seattle WA  |  November, 17, 2011 at 02:58 PM

Seems to me that while they claim no GMO/GM there is no way this can be regular conventional breeding. I breed tomatoes: no way. And it's not "taste" that matters: let's be clear here: nutrition is what matters. Increasing brix means increasing sugars: just what fatty America needs: sugar in their tomatoes. Idiots.

NC  |  November, 17, 2011 at 03:08 PM

First LET a average consumer clear everyone up! TASTE IS WHAT MATTERS. The fact that we can get a child to eat ANY and I mean ANY vegetables is a miracle. So if what you call a "BRICK" content is all you care about then you haven't battled any child who hates vegetables. My children all eat the Ugly ripe. So before you run your mouth please know what you are talking about. Lets all cheer for the vegetable kids will eat. GO UGLY RIPES!

Vicky Boyd    
Florida  |  December, 06, 2011 at 03:17 PM

As the author of this article and editor of Citrus + Vegetable Magazine, I didn't write it before first tasting the Tasti-Lee. While I admit it's not quite a home-grown tomato, it's a lot closer than the mature greens or vine ripes they currently are selling. You can have something that's really nutritious. But if it doesn't taste good, people aren't going to eat it. Case in point: parsnips.

Mary J    
Tampa, FL  |  November, 17, 2011 at 03:13 PM

I shop at Publix and I have tried both the Tasti-Lee and UglyRipe tomatoes. It’s like Coke and Pepsi. They taste different. My choice is the UglyRipe tomatoes.

jim thompson    
Eufaula , Al  |  November, 17, 2011 at 04:49 PM

The best tasting tomato I have had since picking and eating one from my grandmothers back yard. I shop at the Publix in Auburn Al and they are flying out the door. This is a home run for the consumer.

jim thompson    
Eufaula , Al  |  November, 17, 2011 at 04:50 PM

The best tasting tomato I have had since picking and eating one from my grandmothers back yard. I shop at the Publix in Auburn Al and they are flying out the door. This is a home run for the consumer.

Fort Myers, Florida  |  November, 20, 2011 at 01:08 PM

All of your efforts have paid off and we are reaping the benefits. We love the Tasti-Lees.

Moncler Branson  |  December, 02, 2011 at 08:50 PM

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Fort Gratiot, Michigan  |  March, 22, 2012 at 05:39 PM

Tried it for the first time today at the Country Market. They smelled nothing like grocery tomatoes and the taste was very very similar to a grown-in-the-garden flavor. I'm sad that one of the three tomatoes in the package was inedible due to mold but the other two were delicious. Not sure I would buy again since they are pricey, especially when the quality of one of them was off.

Jack Flynn    
Lecanto, FL  |  March, 23, 2012 at 12:15 PM

We have tried Tasti-Lee tomatoes from Publix. They are great. Where and when will I be able to purchase started tomato plants since I am a gardener? Thanks for your new tomato.

Richmond, VA  |  April, 05, 2012 at 07:58 PM

We had our first Tasti-Lee tomatoes this week and we are in seventh heaven. They were delicious, firm, ripe and with great texture .... not mealy like traditional off season tomatoes! We purchased ours at Kroger, in the Richmond, VA area.

Bradenton  |  July, 06, 2012 at 02:23 PM

Want REALLY good tomatoes ? Come to either Kings Family Farm or Brown's Grove in Bradenton, Florida. They are growing many varieties of heirloom tomatoes just about all year around in large quantities ! Mrs. King is a Taylor of Taylor Tomato in Palmetto. Kings is growing all sorts of other vegetables as well.

Columbus,Ga.  |  September, 28, 2012 at 07:31 PM

Tasti-lee are a lot better than what we have been getting. The ones we have been getting were not fit to eat. Still are not as good as the tomatoes we got years ago.

VA  |  December, 20, 2012 at 09:36 AM

I bought some at Kroger and had one this morning. It was good and not too mushy/soft like some others I've had. Cutting it up into tiny pieces was less of a hassle.

Lynn Demarest    
West Palm Beach  |  December, 29, 2012 at 08:23 PM

Love them, especially when they're on sale for two bucks at Publix.

Henry Hardy    
Osteen, Fl.  |  January, 30, 2013 at 05:30 PM

Good job on the tomatoe development. I was sure that the tomatoe was from out of state or hydroponic because of the great flavor, color and texture. Vine ripe is the best. Thanks for a Florida tomatoe that we can be proud of.

Ocala, FL  |  February, 18, 2013 at 07:09 PM

They fooled you, it is not actually heirloom but it was selected to look like one.

April, 20, 2013 at 10:04 AM

Tasted so good that I planted the seeds a few weeks back. I hope my new tasti lee sprouts will develop to the same taste as the tasti lee tomato it came from

Bama Bob    
North Alabama  |  May, 05, 2013 at 04:02 PM

Tasti Lee is a hybrid (Burpee has the seed)so there is no telling what you'll get if you save seed from a store tomato. Each plant could be different.

May, 09, 2013 at 01:36 PM

Had a tastee lee that looked ripe but was hard as a rock finally decided to use it and it had sprouted even though never softened like a real tomato. Planted it have huge plant but even though it is flowering no fruit! Ideas?

Vicky Boyd, Editor    
California  |  May, 09, 2013 at 01:44 PM

I can't comment about the ripeness issue. But I do know that Tasti-Lee is a hybrid, meaning it comes from two different parents. When they're crossbred, using traditional methods (NOT GMOs), they create a new variety, such as Tasti-Lee. When you save the seeds, the genetics revert back to one of the parents. You probably have a plant that's similar to one of the parents, which may or may not be known for its flowering ability. It may have been used because it had other desirable traits. That's why it's always a gamble to save seeds from hybrids--you never know what you're going to get, and chances are it's not like the veggie you bought in the store. Also, how cold does it get at night? Tomatoes will bloom but won't set fruit if it gets below about 50 degrees.

Kansas  |  May, 23, 2013 at 09:45 PM

I tried some of the Tasti-Lees for the first time this week. They are noticeably better than regular supermarket tomatoes, but still nowhere close to tomatoes I get from my own garden. They were not quite at the peak of ripeness when I got them, so I'm saving one of them for a few days to see if it's any better then. So far, the best store tomato I've had recently was from Euro-Fresh in AZ.

September, 24, 2013 at 05:57 PM

Is this a genetically modified tomato and if so, what was it genetically modified with?

Vicky Boyd    
California  |  September, 24, 2013 at 06:16 PM

No, the Tasti Lee is NOT a GMO. It was developed through conventional breeding techniques. These are the same techniques used to create other hybrid tomatoes that are in the market place. There was no genetic engineering involved. Hybrids involve crossing two somewhat dissimilar varieties. Kind of like a labra-doodle (a cross between a poodle and a Labrador retriever).

October, 26, 2013 at 08:29 AM

I always find with Publix.....take the product back and they will make it good. I love the Tasti-lee and have been using them since they first came out. I am from the midwest where the tomatoes are excellent and these come the closest to the midwest tomatoes.

Midwest  |  September, 05, 2014 at 02:09 PM

You can't beat the old favorites, Jet Star and Spring Set. After years of trying different varieties we settled on these two. Full of flavor, sweet and kept great we canned thousands of quarts never got tired of that great flavor; spaghetti, lasagna, hot pies, tomato juice stewed, bring those back.

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