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Jan 2, 2012 09:23 PM

Where to find good fresh tomatoes

I'm looking for about fifty pounds of really good fresh tomatoes to make the next six months' sauce. I got these great brown kumato things in Kensington market for $1.49 a pound but they don't have them in right now. Can anyone recommend some good ones? They have to be fresh.

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  1. You're asking for the impossible. I don't even think there're any Ontario greenhouse tomatoes available around this time.

    Anything you see will be shipped from Florida/California. They'll be picked early to survive the journey, aka not "good fresh tomatoes".

    Tomato season in southern Ontario starts around July and finishes end of Sept early Oct (that's pushing it). Doesn't help you now but make a year's worth of sauce during that time.

    If I were to make sauce now, I would just use canned. The la regina san marzano brand (not DOP) available at costco is pretty damn good for the price.

    14 Replies
    1. re: aser

      +1 for the San Marzanos at Costco. I bought a big can and not only it was dirt cheap it was way better than one can get in the winter here. Very Nice sweet finish and just right for making the sauce.

      1. re: aser

        Costco's large cans of 'San Marzano' tomatoes are indeed an incredible deal. So are the smaller cans which sell for almost the same price per unit of tomato. However, one should note that these are not the D.O.P. certified San Marzano species tomatoes that tomato connaisseurs like me want (and restaurants like Pizza Libretto must use in order to serve real Neopolitan Pizza certified by the VPN), but merely tomatoes labelled with a name that includes the words 'san marzano' in order to trade upon the famous san marzano name. The tomatoes are from Italy though, just like the D.O.P. certified ones. Maybe they are similar but there is no information on where exactly they are grown or whether they are grown in the same volcanic soil that the famous san marzano species tomatos are. Having said all of that, some find they do not prefer these tomatoes or see no difference between them and the non-certified ones. Others do. Each to their own (taste buds, that is).

        And no, you are not going to get fresh tomatoes in a cold country during the winter. You are going to get tomatoes that are picked early, flown in from a distant location, and grown and ripened for and during storage and transit. There is absolutely no comparison between these tomatoes and the ones you can buy in the summer in terms of taste.

        If you are going to go to the trouble of canning, do it when the tomatoes are fresh, local and inexpensive. That is in the mid to late summer in Toronto. I plan also to can (well, in glass jars) fresh tomatoes from local farms and from my yard next summer so that I have enough to last me the whole year. I am doing it both for the benefit of having that local, organic, fresh Ontario tomato goodness all year round and also because all canned tomatos have that nasty bisphenol-A in them, with the exception of tomato sauce in glass jars and, apparently, some Utopia brand canned tomatoes with certain codes stamped on them which do not appear to be available any more. Diced tomatos and whole tomatos are not available in bisphenol-A free glass jars (but crushed ones are) and this also encourages me to can them in the summer.

        1. re: Flexitarian

          WOW! Now I really need to get to South St Burger for a veggie burger!

          1. re: Flexitarian

            All the canned tomatoes I've encountered (including the costco san marzanos) taste like canned tomatoes. Maybe it's the calcium chloride. I'd try pomi but I'm trying to achieve a specific texture with my sauce that's unobtainable with tomatoes that are pre-chopped or pureed.

            The brown kumato tomatoes I found last week in kensington market were superb. Perhaps they were grown in greenhouses because they were every bit as good if not superior to regular old romas even in the peak of tomato season. The sauce one can make from them is worth doing even now.

            1. re: pizzatheorem

              Have you tried roasting canned tomatoes, before turning them into sauce? Bittman wrote about this a few years ago: Might intensify the tomato taste and get rid of the canned taste. Not sure if the Muir Glen canned tomatoes contain calcium chloride.

              If you're looking for tasty fresh tomatoes, Harvest Wagon sells great tomatoes year-round, but they cost more than $1.49/lb. I don't turn expensive tomatoes (those that cost more than $2/lb) into sauce!

              Harvest Wagon
              1103 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W, CA

              1. re: prima

                I only turn expensive tomatos or less expensive in-season tomatos into sauce. Not sure why a sauce should deserve an sub-par tomato.

                1. re: Flexitarian

                  Good for you. ;-D

                  What I'm saying is that I don't buy any fresh tomatoes for cooking or sauce once they head upwards of $2/lb. I don't think I wrote anything about buying or using sub-par tomatoes for sauce. ;-)

                2. re: prima

                  I tried a thomas keller oven roasted tomato sauce at one point when I was experimenting with different recipes but I didn't like the result. I will admit it did have a wonderful sweetness though. But I'm happy with my current process, using fresh tomatoes and first reducing the juice and material surrounding the seeds, then combining the reduced tomato essence with the fresh tomato flesh for additional cooking with butter, garlic and onion. I just want to make a large batch of it now.

                3. re: pizzatheorem

                  I want to get some of those kumato's you found. Where did you get them exactly?

                  1. re: Flexitarian

                    If I remember correctly, it's on the corner of st. andrew and kensington. It's a portuguese run place across from an asian run place. They're the only place I know of that gets them in bulk. They don't always have them and when they do, they last only a few days. They are basically perfect at $1.49 a pound. I just need a bushel of them. I wish the public were allowed in to the food terminal.

                  2. re: pizzatheorem

                    Sounds like you found a source you like. Why not go back there?

                    1. re: Terrie H.

                      They don't have them now, but I guess you're right. I also just wanted to stimulate some tomato conversation, find out if these kumatos or a good substitute were more widespread than I imagined.

                4. re: aser

                  Pusateri's was selling Ontario-grown greenhouse grape tomatoes for $3.99/pint the week before Xmas, but I wouldn't be using those for sauce.

                5. I have seen kumato tomatoes from Mexico at Costco, around $3/lb.
                  There is an excellent greenhouse tomato from Leamington, called Campari. Metro has them, at about $3/lb. Maybe you can get a deal from the store manager at Metro (Costco won't budge.)

                  1 Reply
                  1. Talk to Sovereign Farms in the North St. Lawrence market. I know the main person there commented to me that it was near impossible to grown inside all year but he would likely be able to help you.


                    1. I was just at Costco Billy Bishop Way (North York) today. They had:

                      2kg (4.4lb) of Ontario grown fresh 'Mucci Farms' 'Tomatoes on the Vine' for $7.99 (that's $3.995/kg or $1.82lb) (; and

                      2lbs of Mexican grown fresh Kumato tomatoes for $5.49 (that's $6.05/kg or $2.75lb).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Flexitarian

                        I've tried the Mucci vine tomatoes but Campari seemed a lot better (to my taste.) But all of these are a better winter choice than we had two or three years ago.