Israeli farmers say they have produced a tiny tomato the size of a blueberry, said to be the smallest tomato in Israel and perhaps the world.
Three Israeli farmers from the agriculture tech company Kedma in Moshav Idan, in the southern Arava desert, unveiled this week the “Tipa Tomato,” or “drop tomato,” which will be presented in a three-day international agricultural fair in Israel later this month, according to the Associated Press.
Get our weekly highlights directly in your inbox!Sign up
The tomato comes in red and yellow varieties and is smaller than a one shekel coin.
Ariel Kitron, one of the producers of the drop tomato who established Kedma in 2015 with farmers Dubi Degai and David Mizrachi, tells NoCamels that the produce came about after farmers all over the country suffered a “few bad years in agriculture.” The three, he said, decided to travel the world trying “to find something new for the Israeli market,” discovering a seed company in Holland, which developed the tomato seed and gave it to them to grow in Israel.
They then brought it back, partnering with researchers at the Central and Northern Arava Research and Development Center, to be modified to match the dry conditions of the southern part of the country. “It’s much hotter here,” Kitron said, “The sun is very strong and the irrigation is good,” he says.
Kitron says that Kedma’s work would continue with R&D partners to develop new products so they “can survive here.”
He also says the tomato was intended for the Israeli market, so it’s surprising to him that it has received so much attention worldwide, with headlines in major publications across the globe.
Locally, the Tipa Tomato caught the eye of popular Israeli chef Shaul Ben Aderet, who owns three Israeli restaurants including Tel Aviv’s Blue Rooster. He told the AP that the new strand is packed with flavor and will conjure up lots of new recipes for chefs who come across it. He told the AP it could be sizzled in a pan or baked into focaccia bread.
He also said it would make a great snack. “It’s very simple, it’s clean, it’s nice, it’s sexy,” he said, “they would say the tomato is a candy, that’s for sure.”
Promising tomato innovation
In a country that leads in agricultural innovation and tech, fruits and vegetables have become a source of pride for Israel as many types were invented on the land and exported to countries around the world.
While the cherry tomato was not invented in Israel, contrary to popular claims, several strands of cherry tomatoes were developed in the country, including the Tomaccio tomato, a sweet cherry tomato bred for the sun-dried tomato market and developed in several laboratories in Israel with the main ones being led by Professor Nahum Keidar and Professor Chaim Rabinovitch from the Agriculture Faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Rehovot campus.
The Kedma farmers say they have developed a second tomato, which they lovingly call the “Bon Bon” because of its very sweet taste, higher than anything known in the market.
“We missed the sweet taste that tomatoes once had, the taste of our childhood,” Degai told the Israeli news agency Tazpit. He says the customer buying this tomato knows exactly what kind of taste and high quality to expect, compared with the more regular-sized cherry tomato.
“We have achieved a sweet and unique taste with a different aroma than the standard [cherry] tomato, using the world’s leading technology…It has achieved a sweetness that is 30 percent higher than any other tomato in the market,” he said.