What is the difference between all types of tomatoes?


what is the difference between all types of tomatoes?

Before we answer our key question – what is the difference between beefsteak, cherry, grape, heirloom and plum tomatoes – we have to address another one: Why are tomatoes from the supermarket so bad?

There are two main categories of tomatoes: Heirlooms, which we’ll cover below, and Hybrids.

Hybrids

The tomatoes that you can find in the supermarket all year round are hybrids, that is, humans have grown and bred them according to certain characteristics. Not all hybrids are bad, but supermarket ones usually are; They are bred for disease resistance, firm meat, thick skin and shelf life rather than taste, for example. They are also torn out of their plants as hard as a rock so that they are not crushed on the way to their destination. From the vine, they can’t develop the sugars, acids, and other flavor / aroma chemicals that make them taste really good – so they’re sprayed with ethylene gas instead, causing redness and softening. The result: watery, cotton-like pucks.

Old tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes, on the other hand, tend to be “openly pollinated,” which means the variety comes from natural pollination (birds, insects, wind, etc.) rather than scientists. These types of tomatoes “grow real”, which means that when you plant one of their seeds, it grows into a plant that will bear the tomatoes that look just like the parents. (Hybrids, on the other hand, produce plants that have different traits from each of the parents; it takes about seven generations for the varieties to stabilize.) Heirlooms are from plants that have been grown without crossing for at least fifty years. They come in all different colors, shapes and sizes: perfectly oval; fissured and bulbous; heart-shaped; yellow, green, black, pink, striped, batik. Their names are just as varied: Black Krim, Mr. Stripey, Brandywine, Cherokee Purple. These are the guys you find at the farmers market in high season who just beg to be sliced ​​and salted and eaten pretty much as they are.

Beef steak tomatoes

Beefsteak tomatoes, which can be either heirlooms or hybrids, are distinguished by their size – they can each weigh over a pound and are six inches or more in diameter – and their texture: they have smaller seed cavities than other types of tomatoes, which makes them have a higher pulp to juice and seeds ratio. There are around 350 types of beef steaks and although you will mainly see the red ones labeled as “beef steaks”, they can come in all colors: pink, yellow, green, white, technicolor. The heirlooms Brandywine, Cherokee Purple and Black Krim are also all beefsteak tomatoes.

Plum tomatoes

Also known as Roma or pate tomatoes, plum tomatoes are oval and smaller than beef steaks. In addition, compared to other varieties, they have a lower water content and an almost tough pulp, which makes them particularly suitable for making sauces. These are the tomatoes that you will see all over Italy. The most famous variety is the San Marzano.

Baby tomatoes: cherry, grape, cocktail

And let’s not forget the baby tomatoes: the cherries, grapes and cocktails. Cherry tomatoes are the small, round guys with thin skin who squirt juice everywhere when you bite into them. They are super cute and high in water content and come in many colors. Cocktail tomatoes are the elongated, grape-shaped ones that you often find in grocery stores; They have a lower water content and a thicker skin than cherry tomatoes, which means that they can be kept longer. Cocktail tomatoes are bigger than grape and cherry tomatoes, but still of the small, sweet variety. They are grown hydroponically and are available at many grocery stores. If you’re looking for a decent specimen outside of the real tomato season, these are usually your best bet.

From the book ‘What’s the Difference?’ from Brette Warsaw. Copyright © 2021 by Brette Warshaw. Published by Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted with permission.

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What’s the difference ?: culinary reference book for the curious and confused

Brette Warshaw is the author of “What’s the Difference?” and the newsletter of the same name. She is an editor at Apple News and has worked for publications such as Lucky Peach and Food52.

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Amanda Litchford

Making delicious meals and researching products has inspired me as a stay at home mom to start this website in helping out others who don’t have the time or expertise in the kitchen.

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