CORVALLIS, Ore. – In 2011 Jim Myers did something no one had done before. The Oregon State University vegetable breeder released the first purple tomato containing the same healthy compound found in blueberries.
The Indigo Rose tomato, which took Myers, a professor in the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences, and his team 10 years to develop, took the market – and other breeders – by storm. People liked the tomato’s novelty but the benefits from the anthocyanins in the skin were the draw. Interest in anthocyanins, the pigment that turns the tomato fruit purple and contains healthy antioxidants, was peaking with the public.
In the last 11 years, Myers has continued to improve his line and has added four other purple tomatoes to the mix: Indigo Cherry Drops, a cherry tomato with better flavor and yield than Indigo Rose; Indigo Pear Drops, a sweet, pear-shaped fruit; and Indigo Kiwi, with improved growth habit, flavor and resistance to leaf curl. The latest is Midnight Roma, a paste tomato being used by chefs and home cooks for sauce that was released in 2021.
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