How to Choose the Best Tomatoes

A couple of months ago I posted a blog entitled, What Goes Around, Comes Around. Essentially, I wanted to remind everyone about the increasing need to buy locally-grown fresh produce. Today, I want to re-emphasize the importance of local buying and give you some tips on what to look for when you get to the produce section of your grocery store.

  1. Tomatoes on the vine are usually the freshest tomatoes in the store. After picking, tomatoes continue to change color and soften, but the sugar, acid, and aroma compounds are locked in once the fruit is removed from the vine. So, if you are buying tomatoes for the week, you are best to buy on the vine varieties because they will continue to enrich with flavor.

  2. Buy locally-grown, if possible. The closer a store is to the producer, the fresher the produce. We try to pick and ship within 24 hours to customers located near our two facilities (California and British Columbia). The good news for tomato lovers is point #1 of this blog; tomatoes on the vine, such as our strawberry, cocktail, yellow and orange will continue to ripen for several days in the delivery trucks and on the store shelves.

  3. In the store, be selective without manhandling. Pinching and squeezing bruises; tomatoes don’t like that and neither do I. Those that are glossy, smooth, plump and not overly ripe are the ones to buy. It might surprise you, but the aroma of the tomato is the best indicator of quality – even more so than color. Bring the tomato to your nose and smell the stem (the technical term for this is the calyx) and you’ll know.

  4. Greenhouse tomatoes favor no season. Because the eco system of the modern greenhouse is controllable, a winter tomato from Houweling’s is every bit as good as a summer one. But beware: not all greenhouses are the same. Some growers cover their vines with plastic and market them as “greenhouse” when really they are “protected culture” – their tomatoes may cost less but they are not grown under the modern greenhouse standards. I’m happy that discussions are finally taking place to establish a ‘certification’ designation based on stringent systems and processes.

  5. Note the brand name and the country of origin. I prefer greenhouse-grown tomatoes from the US and Canada because tight regulations are in place to ensure high food safety standards. Check the label to find out where the tomato was grown, not who packed and shipped it. Many “growers” have become marketers who operate in the US and Canada but import tomatoes from contract growers in other countries. As for the Houweling’s brand, you have my guarantee that the tomato you buy was grown in our California or our British Columbia greenhouses. For more on country of origin labeling check out this link from Food & Water Watch

Before I go, today is Canada Day and Wednesday is 4th of July in the United States. I wish all a great holiday and hope locally grown produce is on the menu when you celebrate at home!

As always, with my regards,

Our Mindset


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