Top 10 Questions about Tomatoes
You asked, we delivered! We picked the Top 10 Tomato questions that people ask us most frequently, and consulted our expert growers and chefs for top-quality answers. We have the answers to your most frequently asked questions about Tomatoes, plus some useful bonus facts.
What are the health benefits of Tomatoes?
There are many health benefits associated with Tomatoes. All Tomatoes have a high concentration of lycopene, vitamin A, and vitamin C in them. For this reason, Tomatoes are often considered an antioxidant powerhouse. Lycopene is known as a cancer-fighting agent, and vitamin A and vitamin C are known for maintaining healthy skin, good vision, a strong immune system, and a healthy heart. What more could you want?
When it comes to lycopene, start looking more closely at the inner color of the Tomatoes that you buy from the store or grow in your garden. All Tomatoes contain lycopene, but the deeper the red hue is inside of a tomato, the higher the lycopene content!
How many types of Tomatoes are there?
Across the world, there is no way to accurately say how many varieties of Tomatoes exist. There are thousands upon thousands of known varieties, but no exact number is available.
At NatureFresh™, we regularly grow over 15 varieties of Tomatoes in both our Leamington, ON and Delta, OH greenhouses. Some of the Tomato categories that we grow include: Beefsteak, Tomato-on-the-Vine (TOV), Roma, Cocktail, Cherry, Grape, Medley, and Tomberry®. There are also multiple colors present within these categories.
Along with our established Tomato types, we are constantly trying new varieties to find the next best Tomato. In our Discovery Center, we are currently conducting trials with over 285 different varieties of Tomatoes. It’s safe to say that we grow a lot of Tomatoes at NatureFresh™!
Is it better to eat Tomatoes raw or cooked?
When it comes to fruits and veggies, eating them raw is always your best bet. This is because when you cook fruits and veggies, they lose nutrients and sometimes become drained of flavor. By eating a Tomato raw, you will definitely get all of the nutrients and vitamins that the Tomato has to offer.
We understand that Tomatoes are also delicious in soups, sauces, and grilled on your burgers. If you can’t avoid cooking your Tomatoes, steaming them is a good way to keep as much of their health benefits as possible.
The worst way to cook Tomatoes is by boiling them. This will cause all the vitamins and nutrients in the Tomato to seep out of the fruit and into the water. For this reason, we suggest that you avoid boiling Tomatoes if you want to maintain their health benefits!
What is an Heirloom Tomato?
An Heirloom Tomato looks, tastes, and feels like a Tomato you would have found in your great-grandmother’s garden. Often referred to as a ‘Heritage’ Tomato, it doesn’t look like the ‘typical’ red, round Tomato that has become the standard – instead, it is often characterized by its funky shapes and colors. Heirloom Tomatoes are also often very sweet, and may be slightly softer to the touch than your average red Tomato.
Which Tomatoes are the sweetest?
Everyone has different taste buds, and all Tomatoes have different sugar content, so it is difficult to definitively say that one Tomato is the sweetest of all. This is why we run hundreds of trials and taste testing experiments at NatureFresh™ – everyone will give slightly different feedback about the taste of any given Tomato, but with enough tests, we can see which Tomatoes people usually find the most sweet, sour, or tangy.
Although everyone has unique taste buds, we have concluded that Cherry Tomatoes are often perceived as the sweetest of all Tomatoes. And of course, our TOMZ® Red Cherry Tomatoes are certainly no exception to this!
What is the best way to keep Tomatoes fresh?
One way to keep ripe Tomatoes fresher longer is by storing them at room temperature on your kitchen counter. Keeping them out of direct sunlight will also help.
Many people ask if you should put your Tomatoes in the fridge. If your Tomatoes are ripe, you can put them in the fridge to help them last slightly longer, but this will affect the flavor. Do not put your Tomatoes in the fridge if they are still ripening – this will stop the ripening process entirely and spoil the Tomatoes.
Another way to keep Tomatoes fresh is to avoid washing them if you are not going to eat them immediately.
How long does it take Tomatoes to grow?
Tomatoes take a different length of time to grow depending on the environment they are growing in.
In a garden, Tomatoes typically take approximately 76 to 86 days to grow from seed to harvest. This is weather dependent – sunny, warm weather will lead to faster growth!
In the greenhouse, our Tomatoes typically take 50 to 60 days to grow from seed to harvest. This timeframe is also weather dependent – if it is very sunny, our Tomatoes will grow quicker than if we are getting a lot of cloudy weather. Some types of Tomatoes take longer to fully mature, but in the greenhouse, 50 to 60 days is the average length of time for Tomato plants to grow to full maturity.
How do you know when Tomatoes are ready to pick?
You know that Tomatoes are ready to pick when their skin has fully changed color and there is no green tinge. You will also know a Tomato is ready to be picked when it begins to lose its firmness.
At NatureFresh™, we also grow Green Beefsteak Tomatoes, which are a Tomato variety that makes this question more interesting. How can you tell that a Green Beefsteak Tomato is ripe and ready to pick? It takes a trained eye to see that the darker green that this Tomato starts out with has turned to a slightly lighter shade.
What should I look for when choosing a Tomato?
It depends what type of Tomato you are looking for:
- Beefsteak Tomatoes: Ripe and firm to the touch
- TOV Tomatoes: Ripe, firm to the touch, and a fresh stem attached
- Snacking Tomatoes: Ripe and firm to the touch
- Roma Tomatoes: Softer to the touch is fine (since Roma Tomatoes are generally used to make sauces)
With all Tomatoes, we recommend buying locally-grown whenever possible. If a Tomato is grown locally, that means it will have spent less time in transit to the store, so it will be fresher and will last longer!
Are Tomatoes a fruit or a veggie?
This is by far one of the most frequently asked questions about Tomatoes.
The answer? Although they are commonly considered a vegetable, Tomatoes are technically fruits!
When people think of fruits, they almost always think of apples, oranges, pears, or peaches. This is because a common misconception is that fruits only grow on trees. But a fruit is any produce item that has seeds! Tomatoes have seeds, so technically, they are fruits.
Thank you to our experts for lending their expertise!
Find more produce facts by reading our frequently asked questions about Cucumbers and Bell Peppers.