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Another reason to order that Bloody Mary at brunch. 

August 11, 2017

Scientists at the University of Florida are hoping to extract the essence of tomatoes, to make the juice from the fruit taste better.

According to a report from the Palm Beach Post, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has found evidence that “essence,” usually extracted from a plant to enhance a flavor or an aroma, can also be used to improve the flavor a juice. The research team used a process called volatile capture to obtain the essence of tomatoes, which they hope will be able to add flavor back to juice after it’s dampened during the pasteurization process.

“Many individuals complain that tomato juice doesn’t resemble typical, fresh, tomato flavor,” Paul Sarnoski, an assistant professor in the food science and nutrition department at the University of Florida, said. “Perhaps, by adding an essence, we could make the juice more closely resemble fresh tomato flavor.”

Producers of citrus juice, like orange and grapefruit, already add the fruits' essence to bump up the flavor after it’s been pasteurized, but the technique hasn’t yet been applied to tomato juice.

The researchers found that Garden Gem tomatoes, a variety bred at the University of Florida, actually hold flavor better after pasteurization, so they concluded that the essence of this specific type of tomato might be best at enhancing the flavor of tomato juice to make it taste fresher and, well, more like an actual tomato. 

This will probably be good news for frequent flyers: A recent study from Cornell University found that the loud, droning noises on airplanes actually weaken your ability to taste sweet flavors, so that's why many people actually crave the umami flavor of tomato juice when they fly. You may have indulged in that Bloody Mary just because you felt the urge to try something savory, but in the future, the tomato juice itself may actually be worth drinking just for the taste.