I love tomatoes, and I love salt. So this post about growing hydroponic tomatoes with a weak sodium chloride solution on one of my new must-read blogs, News for Curious Cooks authored by Harold McGee, definitely caught my eye.
According to the post,
At the Institute of Vegetable Science in Freising, German scientists grew hydroponic tomatoes in a solution that was 0.1% sodium chloride, about one-thirtieth the salinity of seawater. The plants produced fruits with significantly higher levels of flavorful organic acids and sugars, and as much as a third more vitamin C and beta-carotene (the precursor to vitamin A) and the antioxidant red pigment lycopene.
Although the study apparently doesn't say anything about whether the tomatoes taste salty (with a 0.1% solution, it's unlikely) the latent gardener and geek in me wants to try out this growing method for myself. I've had limited success growing tomatoes in our cool climate, but with this winter being the warmest it's been in some 1,200 years in Switzerland, maybe we'll get a warm enough summer. So now I'm searching around for hydroponic growing methods that can be done at home. So far I think the best and easiest method might be to use Seramis clay chips (which are sold locally at Coop Gartencenters), which are a bit pricey...but for a great tasting home grown tomato, I'm willing to do just about anything!
Related: On Food and Cooking, the indispensable kitchen and culinary reference by Harold McGee.