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Feb 15, 2011 08:48 AM

Winter tomatoes

On WGBH radio's Emily Rooney show today, Corby Kummer with a taste test of tomatoes grown over the winter in hoophouses in New England.

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  1. So, what was the outcome? Didn't get to listen. Not that I take everything Mr. Kummer recommends as gospel!

    3 Replies
    1. re: CocoDan

      No surprise that they did not stack up well against in-season fresh tomatoes. The consensus was that they are on the hard side, with thicker skin and less flavor. However, Kummer pointed out that if he has a choice he'd rather buy local/regionally grown not-so-great tomatoes than flown in from another continent not-so-good tomatoes, the other winter option we have.
      They also discussed Walmart's new goal of buying local produce at a fair price. This gives independent farmers a shot at growing for Walmart, which has not been the case so far. The caveat is that to be profitable for the farms, they need to be growing produce that has a high yield per acre.

      1. re: greygarious

        Winter is tomato season in Florida but the "Florida tomatoes" available in the supermarket here are the same garbage that is shipped up north, obviously picked green and some tasteless variety that travels well. I have to get tomatoes at the farmers market and they are much cheaper and incredibly delicious.

        Question: If WalMart buys produce, such as tomatoes from a local mega producer that normally sells countrywide, does that count? I ask because there are large tomato and citrus producers in this area and I have yet to see a good tomato in WalMart even though they are local. Same with citrus. I see very few Florida citrus products anywhere except the farmers market but I do know that most of the local oranges are sold for juice. But what about tangerines, lemons, mangoes, papayas, avocados, etc.? They are all from South America. With the cost of transportation, could that possibly make up for the difference in price between local and foreign? We do get local strawberries here in any store, and the quality is almost as good as farmers market.

        1. re: Floridagirl

          My area of Florida is sorely lacking in farmer's markets, but I've actually had good luck with ugli ripe tomatoes when I've found them in the grocery store.

    2. I've been presented with a few, but I'm not a fan. What I've tried seemed almost grassy.

      1. I don't know where they got them, but the first time I went in to Clover food labs Harvard square in Jan.,, I saw a whole bunch of relatively good looking tomatoes being sliced by the energetic staff. The one in my egg sandwich was actually decent...I mean, tasted so much better than I expected.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Madrid

          That's my experience with the Maine ones--decent. The tomato-vine smell, however, is almost worth the price by itself.

        2. Next summer try growing "Floramerica". They are terrible, but you'll know the taste next winter when tomatoes start arriving mid-winter. They do transport well.

          (Yes, I grew them one summer in Texas, because they were supposed to do well there in heat. They did grow through the heat. Not that them growing yielded anything edible.)

          1. I bought a bunch of winter tomatoes recently, and as you might expect, they were dreadful. Also read Barbara Kingsolver's book on eating only in season (and local), and it changed how I grocery shop.

            2 Replies
            1. re: pine time

              I like to eat locally in season, and really don't care for hot-house grown tomatoes after seeing videos of the hothouse being routinely sprayed.

              But to get the tomato vitamins, I rely on jarred tomatoes or jarred tomato pasta sauce in the winter. I have two favorite brands and make sure I have enough for over the winter -- just as if I had a stash of canning.

              1. re: Rella

                I love fresh tomatoes and miss them over the winter. Last month I saw some heirloom looking tomatoes grown in Mexico at one of our markets. They looked and felt really good. I couldn’t resist. I should have known better. I figured “How bad could they be?” The answer was: really bad. They were mealy, bland, unbalanced and basically inedible.