"I never thought it could taste like that!"

davidcalgary29(2b)January 23, 2014

While I didn't start gardening in order to improve the quality of food that I was eating, I think it's undeniable that all homegrown vegetables taste better than anything that's been shipped to the local supermarkets. It seems, in particular, that some modern commercial fruit and vegetable cultivars have traded taste for shipping durability.
What have you grown that's surprised you by tasting a thousand times better than its supermarket sibling?(and no, 'everything' is not an answer) Here are my top picks:

1. Grapes

I couldn't believe just how superior my 'valiant' grapes are in taste to anything I can get in the supermarket; I had forgotten, with years of supermarket buying, that grapes actually have a 'grape' flavour.

2. Celery

I was amazed just how flavourful celery could be when I planted my first crop three years ago; now I grow it every year. Supermarket varieties are bland and stringy in comparison.

3. Sweet corn

It takes up too much space in my garden, but the taste of homegrown corn is incomparable.

4. Lettuce (leaf)

See celery. Whoever thought lettuce would actually taste like anything that you'd ever want to eat?

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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

Don't forget tomatoes, especially the cherry tomatoes. Like candy! Fresh beans too - nothing like them!

Thinking about fresh veggies sure makes a person long for summer during this cold, cold winter. :-/

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 10:22AM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Green beans are the biggest difference to me. I can't buy them from a grocery store.

Commercial varieties of fruits and vegetables are grown for disease/pest resistance, appearance and stability in shipping before anyone considers flavour. I find it interesting reading Stokes catalogue with notes for commercial growers.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 11:20AM
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don555(3a)

Carrots. Night and day between homegrown and store-bought, which is odd since carrots are pretty sturdy so are good shippers and there really shouldn't be any taste difference between the two, but there sure is. Even homegrown carrots that have been stored in the fridge for a month are much more like fresh-picked from the garden than they are to store-bought.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 4:40AM
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beegood_gw

I agree with the carrots. There is no comparison between home grown and store bought. And of course tomatoes ripened in the sun .

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 8:06AM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

Yes to carrots, too. Baby potatoes! And raspberries warm from the sun.

Sigh.....

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 9:51AM
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shazam_z3

Lettuce is fantastic from the garden. It also keeps forever - I had some last me until January just in the crisper - picked in late September!

Virtually everything is better, really. I love how home grown potatoes have a nutty flavour.

The carrots you get at the grocery store are usually some sort of imperator cultivar - they ship well and have a less than impressive taste. I actually did grow some one year next to some Nantes and the latter were MUCH better. Nantes ship poorly.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 1:23PM
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don555(3a)

Interesting explanation for the carrots, it is indeed the Nantes that I grow.

Blackberries ripened on the canes until the are getting soft. They could never ship them in this condition from Mexico or the US because they would damage too easily. They are soooo sweet and rich in flavour!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 4:49PM
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kioni(3)

Celery?! Well, I just googled it and found a blog showing how the author rooted the base of a celery (bunch) in water for a week, then grown on in soil. Might be an easy way to grow a few plants instead of buying a packet of seed? I did this with store bought green onions last year - rerooted the bases in a glass of water on the kitchen window for a week, then stuck in the garden. Those were my first green onions to eat that spring.

My vote (for today) for most improved flavor when garden grown versus store bought - CARROTS & TOMATOES.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 2:11PM
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verenap(3a)

Strawberries and raspberries are probably my favorite for best home grown flavor...although I must admit, that picking the true wild varieties of these (and blueberries) are another flavor-bursting level above even home-grown.

I also love home grown tomatoes and carrots. I think my favorite part about growing lettuce is, from the store there are so few varieties...romaine, iceberg and green leaf (red, if you're lucky). I love all the subtle (and not so subtle) differences flavors that a person can grow in salad greens, and for that matter, tomatoes.

Come on summer!!

Growing up with a garden the differences were never really "surprising"...as far as flavor-"shock"-value goes, my vote would have to be for bananas and pineapple (eaten on a high-school trip to Costa Rica) I could happily fly back down for a repeat of that juice-running-down-your-arm bursting pineapple flavor. Still on the bucket list - eat oranges straight from the tree. ;)

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 11:27PM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

I know you all want to say it so I will for you. Absolutely nothing beats home grown cannabis.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 11:38AM
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runswithscissors(MT 4/5)

I have to disagree on two of the items mentioned. Carrots and celery. The carrots I have tried in my garden (roughly 14 different varieties) all taste terrible compared to those sweet juicy nubbins in bags called baby carrots. Maybe it's just my taste buds, but I don't like the grassy flavor that garden growing imparts into a carrot. I can't describe the flavor, but to me the taste sort of stings the nasal passages. Celery grows slowly in my garden because of the cold night temps. Therefore my stalks grow tightly stunted and much more strong flavored and fibrous than the juicy, watery store-bought celery. (yes, I know, you can't over-water celery...they like lots.) This year I'm trying cutting celery for the leaves and red celery to see how that goes.

Southie- I know you were being cheeky, but honestly I've always wanted to try growing it. I don't smoke it, but since it seems to be the topic of conversation these days, it seems very challenging to grow. One day it will be legal, and then I'm going to try it. (my nosey-neighbors would report me if I tried it now.)

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 11:56AM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

I agree about carrots. It might depend on the variety and the soil, but I don't even grow carrots because I prefer store-bought. My mom grows acres of them and gives me some. I only eat them because they're free.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 12:09PM
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kioni(3)

In my opinion, carrots are not the easiest to grow. The ones I harvest in the summer do not taste as sweet or as great as the ones I plant end of June for harvest after we've had a few light frosts in the fall. The cold evenings force the above ground greens to send their sugars down to the storage root - perfect. Also, I time when I harvest according to my watering schedule - I want them completely turgid with little to no wrinkles for soil to hide in - otherwise they have to be scraped and then they taste like the store bought. I think it is the flavour contained in the outer skin that touches the soil that we love so much, but that could be our taste buds. And I've read hot weather makes them more bitter. I grow the common scarlet nantes and it's hybrid 'sweetness III'. I harvest when the top diameter is approximately an inch (and less when we're craving baby carrots). We have heavy clay soil, so the soil needs to be improved a lot to get carrots that will grow 5 or 6 inches in length, otherwise I end up with nubs!

I will admit, I've broke down and purchased several bags of those pre-peeled carrot nubs, and all but one bag were pretty good (one bag the carrots weren't sweet at all).

STRAWBERRIES: they always smell so fragrant in their clamshell containers in the stores, but the flavour isn't there for us - we'd rather eat the ones in the garden, even though for me they are a tonne of work to protect from the birds.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 3:07PM
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davidcalgary29(2b)

I think that the key to celery is finding the right cultivar for your garden. The 'Utah' cultivars grow like weeds for me, and it gives such an amazing flavour and tight growth that I might just dig up and throw away my lovage this year. 'Golden Boy', on the other hand, doesn't seem to like my yard at all.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 4:48PM
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akkath

I was most surprised by the turnips, which were larger and sweeter than I could have imagined. My grandkids ate them like candy, and so did we all.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 8:00PM
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shazam_z3

"Baby carrots" are just regular carrots cut into small pieces.

Fresh garden carrots taste better, by far. Full stop. Carrots require a lot of soil amendment and I find they are heavy, heavy feeders. Garden carrots have a much more complex flavour that almost always includes some licorice-like components, which I suppose some people find objectionable.

@verenap - my parents have an orange tree (they live in California), and so I have indeed eaten oranges right off the tree :)

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 2:03PM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

RWS, it isn't difficult to grow, it is the high yields of flowers and flower size that takes some know how and equipment to obtain, but I wouldn't know. C02 induction being a very important factor.....and yeah I was being cheeky lol...

SCG

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 6:53PM
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north53 Z1b MB(zone 1b Canada)

I must admit I'm surprised by some opinions about carrots. If I could only grow one thing it would be my carrots. We love them. Store bought doesn't come close. And I don't find them difficult at all, except maybe getting good germination in my sandy soil. I mulch to keep the seed from drying out during that critical time, but after that they're on their own. I like that I can ignore them until it's time to harvest and even then I can take my time and just dig them as we need them. I leave them to the very end of the season as they get sweeter after frost. And then after they are all dug up, they last long and still taste good during the winter.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 7:26PM
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