Landrace varieties have their place in people’s plates
Rare tomato varieties that have been released from the gene bank were rated as outstanding by one of the most popular Hungarian gastro bloggers. Dóra Havas (author of Lila füge (Purple Fig) foodblog) emphasized the importance of spreading Hungarian landraces during the harvest organized in the “Garden Border” (Kerthatár) Community Garden of the Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre (KÉK)
In April the Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (ÖMKi) donated organic seedlings from ancient tomato landraces to the “Garden Border” (Kerthatár) Community Garden of the Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre (KÉK). Last year Bocuse d’Or winning duo Szabina Szulló and Tamás Széll heaped praise on these varieties. This year one of the most popular Hungarian gastro bloggers, Dóra Havas (Purple Fig) tested them and rated them as outstanding. “Quality gastronomy starts with quality ingredients. These landraces proved that good quality tomatoes with an exciting flavour can be found in Hungary, and they provide an alternative to imports when you’re looking for something exotic.” – said Dóra Havas in summarizing the results of the harvest jointly organized with ÖMKi. She also emphasized the importance of spreading landraces in the largest organic community garden of Hungary.
“While tomatoes offered by supermarkets virtually all taste the same, the Hungarian landraces that were tested have a great diversity of flavour. Some of them have vivid acids, while others are sweet and are perfect for salads. Some other have a less intensive taste but are juicy and have thinner skins, making them perfect for preserves or to be used in Hungarian ratatouille. These Hungarian tomatoes, which are organic, are much healthier than imported fruits.” – said Purple Fig blogger Dóra Havas, who is dedicating a thematic week to Hungarian landraces in cooperation with ÖMKi on her website and Facebook page until the 8th September. During the campaign Purple Fig will also publish exclusive recipes based on the special flavour of the tomatoes harvested from of the organic tomato seedlings of the Máriapócs, Gyöngyös, Fadd, Tolna, Cegléd and Mátrafüred landraces.
From 2012 to 2016, ÖMKi staff investigated a total of 35 tomato landraces with the help of 28 cooperating organic farms. The best ones were presented to the public last year during the “From soil to plate” campaign, which was aimed at promoting organic farming and organic food consumption. The Bocuse d’Or award winning chef duo Szabina Szulló and Tamás Széll also supported this campaign. This year it was Dóra Havas who tested and processed the tomatoes harvested from the seedlings donated to the exemplary demonstration community garden of KÉK.
“Tomato landraces have been crowded out of the supply chain by industrial production in recent decades, and our researchers investigated them to bring the tastiest and most adaptive ones into the public domain again.” – said Dr. Dóra Drexler, director of ÖMKi, which is the only independent Hungarian organization dealing specifically with sustainable agriculture. “Due to the uniformization of supply, housewives forgot the specific traits of the different varieties. Our grandmothers still knew how to save seeds from tomatoes, how to grow seedlings, and what the different tomatoes (with various vigour and fruit shape) could be used for. Today uniform – and often imported – vegetables are put on the tables. If cocktail tomatoes were able to become popular, why shouldn’t Hungarian landraces do the same? I think they do have their place in people’s minds and on their plates.” – added Dóra Havas.
Seedlings produced by ÖMKi became commercially available this spring. They will be available again in spring 2020, but until that time you can get some inspiration on their versatile use from the Facebook page of Purple Fig and some more information on them from biokutatas.hu.
Research Institute of Organic Agriculture: The Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (ÖMKi) works on research-innovation tasks leading to practically implementable results, thus guaranteeing the sustainable development of agriculture and food production in Hungary. To this end the organization develops professional networks in cooperation with Hungarian and international research institutes and farmers, carries out research and information activities, and provides technical advice. Its oldest project called “On-farm research network” won the Agricultural Development Prize at the 78th National Agriculture and Food Exhibition and Fair (OMÉK) and also the E.on Energy Globe Award in 2018, and it is the only Hungarian project carrying out research in close cooperation with farmers by applying a practical approach to sustainable agriculture. The on-farm research method covers simple experiments conducted in real life situations on operating farms adapted to the production objectives defined by the farmers. The subjects of the experiments have been elaborated together by ÖMKi and the participating farms since 2012. The organization’s work has also been acknowledged by the Association of Environmental Enterprises through the charter called “For the protection of the environment” in 2019.