16 April, 2008

The Best Out-Of-Season Tomatoes

I rarely eat fresh tomatoes out of season because they are so bad - watery, mealy, flavorless, crunchily unripe even though the skin may be red - they're usually just nasty. I would rather do without tomatoes until July and August when my garden is in full fruit than settle for the overpriced, sour red corkballs that fill the supermarket's produce aisles.

And then one day at Costco I noticed a selection of tomatoes packed by Mastronardi Produce, a huge hydroponic growing operation in Ontario, Canada.

The bright-red fruit, still on the vine, is packed in transparent plastic "clamshell" containers offering full visibility of the contents: blemish-free, almost supernaturally-perfect looking tomatoes. The beautiful Romana tomatoes I bought even smelled of summer - earthy green vines and deep sweet redness, just like a freshly-picked tomato would smell.

True to their promise, these tomatoes are extraordinary. Although they don't measure up to an earth-grown, full-season garden tomato, they are by far the best "winter tomato" I've ever had - more than a match for the first-of-the-season fruits trucked in to New England from Florida or New Jersey.

Mastronardi has quite an extensive line of fresh vegetables produced hydroponically. You can check out their website here.


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