Tomato, pronounced Tuh-MAY-toh or Tuh-MAH-to, is a delicious and nutritious fruit.
Tomatoes are eaten throughout the world, and their consumption is believed to benefit the heart among other parts of the body. They contain lycopene, one of the most powerful natural antioxidants especially when tomatoes are cooked, which has been found to help prevent forms of cancer. Lycopene has also been shown to improve the skin's ability to protect against harmful UV rays. Tomato varieties are available with double the normal vitamin C, multiple times the normal vitamin A, and up to four times the normal amount of lycopene.
Tomato varieties are roughly divided into several categories, based mostly on shape and size. There are a great many (around 7500) tomato varieties grown for various purposes.
- Mature Green 55 - 60°F
- Light Red (USDA Color Stage 5) 50 - 55°F
- Firm-ripe (USDA Color Stage 6) 44 - 50°F for 3-5 days
Never refrigerate tomatoes.
Store at room temperature with relative humidity of between 85-90%.
Keep tomatoes separate from other ethylene generating products as much as possible; bananas, bell peppers, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, and watermelons. Improper storage and handling reduces shelf life drastically.
Standard tomato quality is primarily based on uniform shape and freedom from growth or handling defects. Size is not a factor of grade quality but may strongly influence commercial quality expectations.
Shape - well formed for type (round, globe, flattened globe, roma). Color - Uniform color (orange-red to deep red; light yellow). No green shoulders.
Appearance - Smooth and small blossom-end scar and stem-end scar. Absence of growth cracks, cat facing, zippering, sunscald, insect injury, and mechanical injury or bruises.
Firmness - Yields to firm hand pressure. Not soft and easily deformed due to an overripe condition.
U.S. grades are No. 1, Combination, No. 2, and No. 3. Distinction among grades is based predominantly on external appearances, bruising and firmness.
Greenhouse grown tomatoes are graded as U.S. No. 1 or No. 2 only.