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The Truth about Cherry Tomatoes

Is there any truth to the cliché that Israel invented the cherry tomato?

We asked the man known as one of the “fathers” of the cherry tomato: the aforementioned Prof. Rabinowitch of Hebrew University.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Rabinowitch and Prof. Nachum Kedar (now deceased) caused a global revolution with the very first extended shelf-life tomatoes. Next, they used genetic knowhow to reinfuse the wonderful flavor and aroma of tomatoes that had been lost through earlier breeding programs for disease resistance and heirloom traits.

And then they set their sights on the coin-sized cherry tomato, originally a South American weed. It was domesticated up until then primarily as a European and American backyard plant.

“Cherry tomatoes were tasteless and had no shelf life, so they couldn’t be made into a commodity until Nachum Kedar and I introduced better breeding for flavor and long shelf life,” Rabinowitch tells ISRAEL21c.

This breakthrough made the cherry tomato mass-marketable in the Western world for the first time in history.

These Israeli scientists also introduced cluster cherry tomatoes that are picked like bunches of grapes, because picking single cherry tomatoes is slow, expensive and labor-intensive

JEWISH MASTERMINDS OF THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY

The late Prof. Nachum Kedar (pictured) and Prof. Haim D. Rabinowitch of the Hebrew University established the foundations of modern tomato cultivation. Photo by Nati Shohat/FLASH90