Researchers at Rutgers University are working feverishly to re-create the original Jersey tomato.

anna liebiedieva

Following an in-depth review of more than 130 different types of tomatoes that began five years ago, the decision was made to develop what many remember as the classic, luscious Jersey tomato of yesteryear.

"When you were a kid you'd stop off at a roadside market in South Jersey and you just jam a tomato in your face and you sprinkle salt on it and the juice is ripping down your chin.  You know that experience? It was great," said Jack Rabin, associate director of Farm Programs at the Rutgers Agricultural Experiment Station.

He said the Jersey tomato is actually a portfolio of tomato varieties from an era when tomato varieties were classical dual use tomatoes, with great color, and a juicy flavor that could be eaten raw or used in canned products.

Rabin said the tomato team has come up with what's known as the Ramapo tomato, and people love the flavor of it.  It's a medium sized, nice red tomato free from defects, but it's a shy yielder and it's a late maturing tomato.

They've also re-created the Moreton and the KC-146 tomatoes.

He said they are working on a tomato of "moderate to good sweetness that also has balancing tingling tartness on the side of your gums or on your tongue.  What people really want is a tomato that is not flat and insipid from being under-ripe and they don't want a tomato that's all sweetness with no tartness."

Will they ever be able to re-create the original Jersey tomato?

"That's a long scientific slog because we'll be making crosses, evaluating every year, making selections.  That is a long, 10 12, 15 year process," said Rabin.