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(ARA) According to experts, more than 1,000 tomato varieties exist. They’re also the world’s most popular fruit. More than 60 million tons of tomatoes are produced per year, 16 million tons more than the second most popular fruit, the banana. (Apples place third.)
At 80, Joe Procacci of Santa Sweets, Inc., continues to travel the globe looking for unusual and tasty tomato varieties to introduce to the United States. Recent journeys have taken him to the Far East.
His research staff developed the UglyRipe (right), the first heirloom-style “backyard” tomato that can be grown in the United States year-round and shipped nationwide. For the first time ever, tomato lovers in most parts of the country can finally eat delicious, flavorful tomatoes in the middle of winter, beginning this year.
So, look for heirloom-style tomatoes at your local natural and organic food store long after outdoor markets and produce stands have closed for the summer. Today, you can look forward to tasty, summery tomato goodness during even the dreariest winter days. And remember:
- Never refrigerate tomatoes, especially those that have not fully ripened. Refrigeration causes the tomato to lose flavor.
- Don’t select your tomato based on perfect size or shape. Some of the best tomatoes are creviced or ridged (heirloom tomatoes, for example). The most important features to consider are firmness and color when buying at market. But the best way to select tomatoes is by sampling the flavor. If your seller offers slices to try before buying, which many local farmers’ markets do, perform your own taste test.
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