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Campari tomatoes -- tried them yet?

  • f

I'm usually extremely skeptical about any supermarket that comes already encased in plastic, but recently I've been turned on to Campari tomatoes, carried at my local Stop and Shop (I'm in Massachusetts).

They're usually nestled in among the expensive, but tasteless, hothouse tomatoes and they come in a clear, plastic hinged container. Small in size -- somewhere between a cherry tomato and a roma -- they are, without a doubt, the most genuinely tomatoey tomato I've ever had that didn't come right out of a garden, and in the middle of the most hellish New England winter in years, that's saying something!!

They come from Mexico and there's a link to www.sunsetproduce.com on the container. $3.49 for 1.1 pounds -- so not cheap, but if you think you just can't last another day without tasting something that reminds you of a season without six foot high snowbanks,, then they're worth it in my book!!

I just made a tomato and Hellman's sandwich on sourdough bread with a little kosher salt and a generous grind of black pepper, and I will admit I was almost brought to tears at the first bite!!

Seek them out and try them -- let me know what you think!

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  1. Modern agribusiness is an interesting thing . I agree , Mexico produces some GOOD winter tomatos . But maybe we're not supposed to eat tomatos in February . It's called seasonal . I agree that theres nothing like a blast of midsummer in the middle of this dismal winter . You East Coast fellas have had it hard this year . I really feel for you all . Three feet of snow sucks . But maybe we should wait for July for tomatos , they taste really good then . I can all my leftover tomatos ,to get me through the winter . Can't wait for this summer .

    1. I buy them at Stop n' Shop all the time and they are so sweet! I love them.

      1. Yes, they're wonderful. They sell them at Costco too.

        1. Are those also called grape tomatoes, or are they different. If they are the same thing, I've had them before and really love them. They are like a mini Roma. Wonderful taste.

          1 Reply
          1. re: greg

            No, they are not grape tomatoes. They look like a regular tomato, only smaller and perfect in shape and color. They are fabulous! The best tomato available here during the non-summer tomato season. Have only seen them in Stop & Shop.

          2. Resurrecting an old thread here, but anyway....

            I haven't seen much mention of these by foodies. Personally, I just sort of stumbled upon them. But over the last couple winters, I've been really quite surprised to find that campari tomatoes seem to taste good the whole way through winter while being easy to find. Maybe not 'fresh, fully ripe brandywine just off the vine from your own garden' good, but very respectable compared to in-season tomatoes, and far better than I had come to hope for from winter tomatoes.

            Do people not know about these? Do they just not believe in using fresh tomatoes in the winter? Does the moderately high price scare people off? Or am I just the last to hear about em?

            8 Replies
            1. re: cowboyardee

              I buy them at Costco all the time, but not so much for their perfection as for their convenience and price. Tomatoes on the vine, at most supermarkets around here, seem to be better quality, but are much more expensive most of the time. There's also something about Campari's size (about like a golf ball) that seems just right when cut in half or quarters for salads.

              My sister-in-law refuses to eat grape tomatoes because she can't stand the tomato bursting in her mouth. I just shut up and nod. ;o]

              1. re: Midlife

                Where I am, the campari taste much better than the tomatoes on the vine (in the winter, anyway). Of course, this may vary by locale and grocer for all I know.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  Here in NJ too, cowboy. I used to totally forsake any winter tomatoes until I tried the Camparis.

                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    Yep – I cut into a beauty of a vine tomato for lunch today and it was mealy and yellow inside – tasted like nothing. The Campari are the best off-season alternative for sure. I just wish they were sold in a smaller container.

                    1. re: EM23

                      I'm assuming you are writing about the 2lb Costco amount? If that is so, and you have a Trader Joe's by you, look for "Pearl" tomatoes. They taste and look the same as Campari tomatoes to me. They are usually $2.99 in 1 lb clamshell containers in Northern California stores. I have also seen smaller amounts of packaged Camparis; at smaller stores, but for much higher prices.

                2. re: cowboyardee

                  I've seen them but I always pass them up. My thinking goes something like this: Any tomatoes on the supermarket shelves at this time of the year are either hothouse tomatoes or they had to be grown somewhere far from here. Hothouse tomatoes, in my experience, are not worth buying. If they come from a distant location, that means that they've traveled far and therefore have been treated or genetically modified to withstand the journey. Therefore, they can't possibly taste like "real" summer tomatoes, so why buy them. But now, after reading through this thread, I'm curious enough to try them.

                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    I agree, they're the best you can get out of season. I've been buying them for years.

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      They're nice, but for most of the year, I can get Ugli Ripes for $2.49/pound and I prefer those in terms of flavor to the camparis.

                    2. Are these tomato-ier than the kumato? I've seen the camparis at Wegmans (and can't recall if I bought them before --- I suppose I would if I had found them that mind-blowing) & will pick up a pack next time around, once my kumatoes are gone. Those are great on BLTs.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: linguafood

                        The first pack of kumatos I bought were really good but the second not so much. The camparis are wonderful, like someone said above not as good as what you'd pick from your own vines in August, but for a winter tomato, unbelievably good. My favorite way to use them is to cut them into about 6 wedges each, then toss with a generous pinch of kosher salt, great olive oil, pepper, chopped garlic and chopped parsley. Basil is even better but I don't always have it. Let it sit while I prepare the rest of the meal. Don't know which I enjoy more -- the tomatoes or dunking a good crusty bread into the juices. Heck, if I had enough right now and plenty of basil, I'd make a raw tomato sauce for pasta.

                        1. re: MrsJonesey

                          The thing about kumatoes is that they're not all alike. I've had fantastic ones that were grown in Mexico, and so-so ones that came from Canada. Same name, same logo, radically different sources.

                        2. re: linguafood

                          I'd been buying nothing but camparis for a few years until I bought my first package of kumatos. Now they're our house staple. I keep trying heirlooms, hot house tomatoes, but nothing comes close to these two, especially the brown ones.

                          1. re: mcf

                            Well, I got some camparis yesterday to try. Not sure I can say much about their quality, as I put them in a BLT salad, and they kinda disappeared, flavorwise. Tho maybe that *is* saying something.

                            I have both kumatoes and camparis here now & shall do a taste comparison, just sliced with salt. We shall see.....

                        3. I've been using them for about 6 or 7 years when fresh, local tomatoes are out of season. I prefer this to grape/cherry tomatoes in most applications. The flavor of the campari tomatoes is the best off season option I've found.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: meatn3

                            Could not live without them, and recently Kumatoes also, but only if they are firm.

                            1. re: angelsmom

                              Well, I just bought 14 oz for 3.99 at Albertson's in San Diego...good...not knock your socks off but way better than you average hot house...worth the price?...for me, not that I am wealthy, probably....4 bucks is a fairly small indulgence if you need a decent tomato out of season...

                            2. re: meatn3

                              We get the Camparis at our local Costco- best flavor for off season tomatoes. And as to the argument about just waiting for seasonal, or not being meant to eat tomatoes any other time of year....what? the rest of the world can only eat tomatoes during the time we can't? They can grow them, but we shouldn't eat them? Does this mean we should also NOT eat many exotic fruits and veggies just because we can't or don't grow them here? (U.S.) I'm totally behind eating local when possible, but why close our world to the many options available from other countries? The focus of Chow seems to be all about expanding our tastes and options, not eating something because it isn't in season locally seems silly. Of course local in-season is better.

                            3. One of our local Costcos had a brand I've never seen before today.............Houweling's. They are hothouse grown, but look and taste pretty much the same as the Campari's I'm used to.

                              Neither brand tastes anywhere near as good as the ones I grow in my yard during the summer.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Midlife

                                I get Sunset brand at Costco, not sure if that's the kumato brand, though.

                              2. Well, I just now did a side by side taste test: one campari tomato vs. one kumato.

                                Both sliced and sprinkled with a bit of kosher salt. Kumato wins easily. I've made my choice.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: linguafood

                                  I know, right? Haven't bought camparis since my first kumato purchase.

                                  1. re: linguafood

                                    I like to have both, since I use the Kumatoes for slicing and the camparis in salads since they are much smaller.

                                    1. re: angelsmom

                                      But their lack in flavor don't make up for their more convenient size. I usually cut my tomatoes into half-moons for salads, so the size is kinda irrelevant to me.

                                      1. re: linguafood

                                        I haven't found any lack of flavor in the camparis, and they were my best go to tomato til I found kumatos. Camparis have really good tomato taste, too.

                                    2. re: linguafood

                                      Interesting. The campari have been tastier than the kumatoes I've tried. But kumatoes have only been available very infrequently where i normally shop, and the ones I've tried tasted as though too much of their ripening took place off the plant. It seems there is some degree of variation in quality from place to place (which shouldn't shock anyone I suppose).

                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                        Yeah, they're not always perfect, but still the best tomatoes around. Including camparis. But maybe I just got a bad batch of those.... who knows.

                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                          I agree, I think the Campari is tastier and more tart, which i like.

                                      2. I recently discovered camparis, and that means we've been eating tomatoes again until the local ones are out. I used to get kumatoes, but nobody here seems to carry them anymore. Occasionally, I'd splurge on an heirloom at WF, but now I buy the camparis, which are pretty tasty, relatively speaking.

                                        1. The Campari's I am getting are hit or miss. As a whole, they are sweet and tasty. However, I'd say 3 out of 5 are real good and the rest are BLAH. The kind I am getting are sold on the vine and are grown in the USA by Eurofresh (Wilcox, AZ)

                                          What I DON'T like about them is that I find their skins unpleasantly tough. I guess that what you get when a market tomato is bred for transport and shelf-life. I like to eat tomatoes as fruit in hand and their skins get stuck in my throat.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: seamunky

                                            Have you tried Sunset brand, sold off the vine?

                                            1. re: mcf

                                              No, I haven't. I see the Eurofresh ones everywhere I go. Thanks for the tip. I'll keep an eye out for the Sunset brand.

                                              1. re: seamunky

                                                Costco carries them. Most supermarkets here in metro NY, too. I think Sunset is from Canada.

                                                1. re: mcf

                                                  I suppose this must be a regional distribution difference. I'm in California and my Costco carries the Eurofresh ones (from Arizona).

                                                2. re: seamunky

                                                  Just checked - the ones I've been getting are also the sunset brand.

                                              2. re: seamunky

                                                I agree with you. I started buying Campari's when they first came out, & they were absolutely DELICIOUS for out-of-season tomatoes. But this past year, the flavor has been very disappointing, & I find myself buying specialty cherry & grape tomatoes instead, simply because they're sweeter.

                                                1. re: Bacardi1

                                                  When I first discovered them (the Euro-Fresh type) a couple of years ago, I fell in love and raved about them - bought a couple of packages recently and was underwhelmed. Thought my taste buds were getting old and wrinkly & never thought that maybe it was the tomatoes themselves!

                                              3. The Compari tomato is also called a sweet 100 tomato as there are general 100 in a bushel. We have been using them for years coming from a local farmer who also has a hot house for off season tomatoes. The Compari has a high sugar content and low acidity, and the flesh even during the off season is not grainy like so many other tomatoes. I’m glad that these tomatoes are showing up in grocery stores now.
                                                Don’t forget about the Compari tomato during the summer, they are acceptable during the winter and amazing during the summer off the vine.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: mford7402

                                                  Is the compari a different breed than the campari tomato?

                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                    no, I was just spelling it wrong. Campari is correct. I'm just used to calling it a sweet 100.

                                                    1. re: mford7402

                                                      gotcha. i wasn't sure as you consistently spelled it compari, and there are tons of varieties out there.

                                                      ya never know '-)

                                                  2. re: mford7402

                                                    I planted some seeds from Camparis last year. The fruit never got completely ripe for me.

                                                    1. re: mford7402

                                                      Actually, Campari tomatoes are not "Sweet 100" tomatoes. Both are two completely different hybrids, regardless of what your local farmer is telling you. Seeds of Campari are registered & currently only sold to commercial growers; seeds of Sweet 100 are available to everyone & anyone.

                                                      I've grown "Sweet 100", & not only is the fruit MUCH smaller than Campari tomatoes (around 1"-1-1/2" in diameter compared to 2"-2-1/2"+ for Campari's), but the fruits of "Sweet 100" grow in very long opposite clusters that are different from the way Campari's fruit.

                                                      You don't have to take my word for it - just do a few websearches on "Sweet 100 tomatoes" & "Campari tomatoes". You'll see the differences immediately.

                                                      1. re: Bacardi1

                                                        The camparis I buy don't seem much more than 11/2 to maybe at most, 2" in diameter. The kumatos are more like the size you describe, IME.

                                                      2. re: mford7402

                                                        That doesn't sound right to me. I'm a gardener, and for many years have grown Sweet 100 tomatoes - they're intensely sweet cherry tomatoes, quite a bit smaller and much sweeter than Camparis.


                                                      3. I looked for Campari seed on the net. Evidently the variety was developed in Holland, and they only sell seed to commercial growers. However, several enterprising gardeners replanted the seed from tomatoes bought at Costco, and reported that it evidently was not a hybrid since they got very similar fruit from their plants. One seller lists the seeds on eBay at $1 per seed in qty of 10!

                                                        1. For those wanting to grow Campari tomatoes, Burpee sells seed and plants of a variety called Mountain Magic.


                                                          1. There seems to be some confusion about Campari tomatoes. Some sources say they are an F1 Hybrid popular in Europe, others say it is a generic name for a sweet cocktail tomato (a little larger than a cherry) and generally sold "on-the-vine".

                                                            Some garden sites say the seeds do not breed true (as is normal with F1's), but others report many people who have grown seeds. If you type 'Campari' into Burpee's search engine, it will take you to 'Mountain Magic Tomatoes' a well-known cocktail type, but this is the first time I've heard it described as Campari.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: DonShirer

                                                              And regardless, while I enjoy Campari tomatoes from the supermarket during the off season, I MUCH more prefer all the wonderful varieties I can grow in my garden during the season. Frankly, don't need Campari's then.

                                                            2. The best off-season tomatoes I've had are the high-lycopene ones at Trader joes. They travel very far to get to me, alas.

                                                              1. I love these tomatoes. They are always so flavorful! We can get them throughout most of the year! There expense is worth it! I am always telling people to try them. Tomatoes have become flavorless but not these!

                                                                1. I've read articles in the papers about food additives to beef to fatten them up faster, but it decreases flavor, which is being used by most ranchers.

                                                                  I've read others about tomatoes, something is added that gives them a really red color. Unfortunately the aroma and flavor get destroyed. Again, the vast majority of tomato growers are using this type of tomato.

                                                                  Campari, evidently, is not using this genetically altered tomato, and consumers are evidently getting wise to the other garbage that they are selling. I've even purchased tomato sauce that looks great but is lacking that great tomato taste.

                                                                  Who knows what they are doing to the nutrition content?

                                                                  1. I LOVE Compari tomatoes! There hasn't been a day in at least the last two years when I haven't had some on my countertop. Here's a tip for you: Store them on the counter with the pack turned so the tomatoes are resting stem side down. They will keep for at least a couple of weeks or more when stored that way. Stem side up and they're goners in a few days! So tomatoes DO know which way is up, and they don't like it!

                                                                    Also, Compari tomatoes are the only tomatoes I've ever had that developed seedlings inside them. They looked soooo cute! But they're toxic. Genuine "gastric distress" I could have done without. I thought thery'd be fine to eat. BIG mistake! So if you ever slice one open (I'd probably had those tomatoes on hand for about three weeks and they were still firm and shiny), just pick out the little bright green tomato plants and the rest is deliciously good to eat. Now you know!

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                      If that's true, why don't they pack them for shipment that way? It might look a little odd, but all it would take to overcome that is a line on the lid like, "Packed stem side down to preserve freshness."

                                                                      1. re: BobB

                                                                        If you doubt the truth of it, try it! Two tomatoes, side by side, one stem up, the other stem down. Let me know which you'll eat in two weeks.

                                                                    2. I got some of these today after reading this thread.

                                                                      Where have you been all my life, O Campari tomatoes? They were so delicious.

                                                                      Tomatoey in the best way. I am so sick of mealy, flavorless tomatoes. They are so small that one would think that they are meant for salads, only. And too expensive to use in cooking. But I would like to try them in a tomato based stew or karhai dish. Perhaps if I see them on sale.

                                                                      1. Flavor has changed. Lately, the Campari's that I've gotten (and I eat perhaps six daily), even though I purchase them days before I use them, they have been lacking in the sweetness that they used to have. I am beginning to think that this tomato has been genetically manipulated as have the rest of the tomatoes in my supermarket, for transportability and color - which also destroys the flavor.

                                                                        I am hoping that this change just reflects a change in growing conditions which will be corrected.