CHIP’S CORNER: Tomatoes…Order them without FEAR

One of the biggest challenges in shipping produce down to the islands has always been tomatoes. While most of what we sell are of the gas ripened variety, we do also offer vine ripened as well as some hothouse varieties and even heirlooms of various types. They are very different in taste and texture which can be further explained to you by your sales rep. Our assorted heirloom tomatoes and baby looms are becoming very popular items among top Caribbean chefs. They love the variety and unique flavor and color of the different tomatoes.

If you find yourself with either over ripe or an excess of tomatoes on hand, there are many really easy and good solutions to minimize your loss and maximize your profits. Salsas, bruschetta, sauces and soups are all very good ways to utilize excess tomatoes as well as roasting or broiling them for side dishes or garnishes. Many operators have even found the items they create to be so well received they sometimes become additions to their existing menus.

There is a new variety coming to market which we have been testing with good success called the Tasti-Lee tomato. It was developed by the University of Florida and has some very desirable qualities. The two main qualities of these tomatoes are they are deep red in color and are a sweeter tomato than most other common varieties. They were developed to grow well in conditions that are typically considered unfavorable for growing tomatoes, which allows them to be harvested across growing regions of the Eastern United States to provide fairly consistent year round supply. They are a vine ripened, not gas ripened tomato as well which is a trait many look for since the gassing process detracts from overall taste and texture. Our concerns were that they would not last well in our trailers and arrive on island too ripe to use. Thus far in our tests, we have not seen that happening. We are seeing nice firm red fruit. The majority of these tomatoes is harvested for the Publix Grocery store chain, but limited quantities are now available to us. We are hoping to see that quantity increase so that we may soon be able to offer these wonderful tomatoes across our distribution network. For more information on these tomatoes CLICK HERE. If you would like some recipe ideas from Tasti-Lee which can be used with any tomatoes (they are just better with the Tasti-Lee) CLICK HERE FOR RECIPES.

I hope you enjoy your tomatoes!

Until next month, Cheers!

Chip Welfeld

Merchants Market

 

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