Ten years ago, Jim Myers, a prominent vegetable breeder, and professor at the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences developed Indigo Rose, which is the first antioxidant-rich purple tomato. Now, Oregon State University (OSU) has developed Midnight Roma, a cross between Oregon Star and Indigo Rose.
Oregon Star is a huge fleshy tomato excellent for paste or slicing. It features high flavor. Indigo Rose is a dark purple tomato loaded with anthocyanins, which is the same antioxidant present in blueberries.
Both tomato hybrids are developed in OSU.
According to Jim Myers, “we were selecting for a really dark indigo-type processing tomato. Ultimately, we got a really nice one. Anybody into home canning would be interested. Chefs like it for making sauces.”
While developing Midnight Roma, Myers focused on disease resistance and flavor. The idea was to create a tomato that tastes better than other paste tomatoes.
Features of Midnight Roma
- Midnight Roma is resistant to verticillium wilt.
- This is a semi-determinate variety, which means the fruits (tomatoes) ripen together at the same time, making it a great variety for preservation.
- The purple skin of tomatoes is rich in anthocyanins. So, if you want to reap the benefits of these antioxidants, you must cook it without peeling and the processing should also be done by including tomato skin.
- Midnight Roma darkens in a manner similar to Indigo Rose. Sunlight is crucial for making the skin purple. Myers suggests using a trellis and pruning extra leaves to let the maximum amount of sunlight to reach tomato skin.