Why can't I find good tomatoes?


Niflmir
#1
My mother in law makes a fantastic tomato sauce (she is Italian). Whenever I do it, the colour is wrong? I think it's the tomatoes. Maybe it's because I have an electric stove?

The recipe seems so super easy.

She heats up some garlic in a pan with oil. She adds tomatoes.
When the pasta is ready she stirs it into the sauce and lets it simmer in the pan. Then adds a bit of basil.

When I do it, the color is wrong (orange) and the flavour of tomato is subdued. I think I need non-hothouse, mature tomatoes. She uses better oil than me too.
 
Dexter Sinister
#2
Quote: Originally Posted by NiflmirView Post

I think it's the tomatoes.

I think that's the best bet. Most commercially available tomatoes have been bred to survive transport and storage, not to taste good. They have nice thick firm skins and no flavour at all. I'd bet she buys Roma tomatoes, or grows her own. I do both, and Romas are definitely superior to the usual thick-skinned mutants for making sauces. They're not often available at my local grocery store, but when they are I get a BIG bag of them, brew up a few gallons of tomato sauce, and freeze it. Home grown are always better though, you can't buy anything that tastes as good as they do.
 
Niflmir
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by Dexter SinisterView Post

I think that's the best bet. Most commercially available tomatoes have been bred to survive transport and storage, not to taste good. They have nice thick firm skins and no flavour at all. I'd bet she buys Roma tomatoes, or grows her own. I do both, and Romas are definitely superior to the usual thick-skinned mutants for making sauces. They're not often available at my local grocery store, but when they are I get a BIG bag of them, brew up a few gallons of tomato sauce, and freeze it. Home grown are always better though, you can't buy anything that tastes as good as they do.

Do you think I could successfully grow tomatoes in an apartment? Maybe I could grow them at work...
 
Dexter Sinister
#4
Sure, all you need is a window box. A south or west-facing balcony would be preferable, tomatoes like it hot and sunny. My dad used to grow them in the basement all winter, under full spectrum lights. They weren't as good as ones grown outdoors in summer, but they were better than the tasteless grocery store mutants.
 
#juan
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by NiflmirView Post

Do you think I could successfully grow tomatoes in an apartment? Maybe I could grow them at work...

We have a deer problem. They eat just about everything including tomato plants.

This year we are growing two tomato plants in big pots on our sundeck.. One is a Giant Beef Hybrid and the other is a Roma. Both are close to three feet high. We don't expect these two plants to provide all our tomato needs but fresh off the vine tomatoes are usually better than what we get at the store.
 
Niflmir
#6
Yeah, it would be nice to have some fantastic tomatoes, even if it was just for a week or month.

Now that I think about it, I think Herr Westermeier, the groundskeeper at my institute keeps a tomato garden in the corner... I wonder if he would let me have a patch.
 
#juan
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by NiflmirView Post

Yeah, it would be nice to have some fantastic tomatoes, even if it was just for a week or month.

Now that I think about it, I think Herr Westermeier, the groundskeeper at my institute keeps a tomato garden in the corner... I wonder if he would let me have a patch.

It's got to be worth a try. Tomatoes are fairly easy to grow. A bit of aphid dust is all I've ever used on the plants. Along with a bit of cow manure....
 
Ron in Regina
#8
Niflmir, this might be your problem, & your solution: How to Blanch Vegetables | eHow.com
 
Niflmir
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by Ron in ReginaView Post

Niflmir, this might be your problem, & your solution: How to Blanch Vegetables | eHow.com

Although that sounds like a fantastic idea, I am not sure how that would affect a sauce... I must remember this, in any case.
 
Ron in Regina
#10
It won't change the flavor, but it will change the color. Ever notice that in a
restaurant, when you order steamed vegetables, they don't look like the
carrots and broccoli that you make at home? Ever notice that it hits your
table (yet is still fresh and hot...not wilted) in less time then you could
possibly cook the same food at home?

The vegetables would have been blanched, and just would have to finish
cooking after you place your order in a restaurant. It's not had to do....

(P.S. Your Orange Tomato sauce will taste just a good as a red sauce )
 
#juan
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by NiflmirView Post

My mother in law makes a fantastic tomato sauce (she is Italian). Whenever I do it, the colour is wrong? I think it's the tomatoes. Maybe it's because I have an electric stove?

The recipe seems so super easy.

She heats up some garlic in a pan with oil. She adds tomatoes.
When the pasta is ready she stirs it into the sauce and lets it simmer in the pan. Then adds a bit of basil.

When I do it, the color is wrong (orange) and the flavour of tomato is subdued. I think I need non-hothouse, mature tomatoes. She uses better oil than me too.

If I was having that problem I would add a bit of tomato paste, just enough to bring back the colour and flavour.
 
Niflmir
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by #juanView Post

If I was having that problem I would add a bit of tomato paste, just enough to bring back the colour and flavour.

I've thought about it. But it almost seems like cheating. Hey if it works, that is all that counts I guess.
 
Niflmir
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by Ron in ReginaView Post

It won't change the flavor, but it will change the color. Ever notice that in a
restaurant, when you order steamed vegetables, they don't look like the
carrots and broccoli that you make at home? Ever notice that it hits your
table (yet is still fresh and hot...not wilted) in less time then you could
possibly cook the same food at home?

The vegetables would have been blanched, and just would have to finish
cooking after you place your order in a restaurant. It's not had to do....

(P.S. Your Orange Tomato sauce will taste just a good as a red sauce )

Ah! I get you! I will definitely try that.
 
Tonington
#14
Next time you're in Italy, bring back some tomatoes, as much as you can! Do like Dex and plan ahead. Not sure what kind of ice box you have in your apartment though.

Dad had a hanging basket last year that he bought in Claresholm...I'd estimate that monster produced enough to fill a ten gallon pail twice over. Little cherries, I brought a bag in my lunch every day!

Here's a picture of the plant before we hung it outside:


Yummm!
 
Niflmir
#15
Theres an idea too. Bringing some back.
 
rufus
#16
We just finished planting 192 Roma tomato plants. We bought 4 flats thinking there were 24 plants to a flat but we were wrong, there were 48 plants to a flat so we will have an abundance of tomatoes. As well as green peppers, yellow banana peppers, Jalapeņo peppers and two kinds of chili peppers. Anyone want to volunteer to come and help pick in the fall?
 
karrie
#17
Oh indeed... when in doubt, nip on over to Italy and get tomatoes.
 
karrie
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by rufusView Post

We just finished planting 192 Roma tomato plants. We bought 4 flats thinking there were 24 plants to a flat but we were wrong, there were 48 plants to a flat so we will have an abundance of tomatoes. As well as green peppers, yellow banana peppers, Jalapeņo peppers and two kinds of chili peppers. Anyone want to volunteer to come and help pick in the fall?

Call your local soup kitchen, I bet they'd come over and help you pick in a heartbeat
 
rufus
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by karrieView Post

Call your local soup kitchen, I bet they'd come over and help you pick in a heartbeat

Already thought of that and they will come to pick all that they can carry. We are also planting a lot of peaches and cream corn if it stops raining long enough. Anything that we don't use we donate to local charities and or families.
 
#juan
#20
Quote: Originally Posted by karrieView Post

Oh indeed... when in doubt, nip on over to Italy and get tomatoes.

Niflmir does live in Germany. Going to Italy would certainly be easier for him than most of us. I would hope it was a tongue in cheek suggestion...
 
karrie
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by ToningtonView Post

Next time you're in Italy, bring back some tomatoes...!

Quote: Originally Posted by #juanView Post

Niflmir does live in Germany. Going to Italy would certainly be easier for him than most of us. I would hope it was a tongue in cheek suggestion...

It was partly in light of where Niflmir lives, partly in light of T's post on the matter.
 
#juan
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by NiflmirView Post

I've thought about it. But it almost seems like cheating. Hey if it works, that is all that counts I guess.

I've never met a good Italian cook that didn't occasionally use a bit of tomato paste in a tomato pasta sauce.
 
AnnaG
#23
Quote: Originally Posted by Dexter SinisterView Post

Sure, all you need is a window box. A south or west-facing balcony would be preferable, tomatoes like it hot and sunny. My dad used to grow them in the basement all winter, under full spectrum lights. They weren't as good as ones grown outdoors in summer, but they were better than the tasteless grocery store mutants.

Lots of water, too, if you want them a decent size.
 
lone wolf
#24
It will soon be time....
 
talloola
#25
[quote=#juan;1127213]I've never met a good Italian cook that didn't occasionally use a bit of tomato paste in a tomato pasta sauce.[/quote

italians use tomatoe paste lots, and I put it in my italian spaghetti sauce as well, helps thicken it up, along with tomatoe sauce, and stewed tomatoes, among many other ingredients. (recipe came from rome)

I buy the tomatoes that are attached to their vine, quite tasty.
Tomatoes should not be refrigerated, changes flavour.
 
ironsides
#26
[quote=talloola;1127480]
Quote: Originally Posted by #juanView Post

I've never met a good Italian cook that didn't occasionally use a bit of tomato paste in a tomato pasta sauce.[/quote

italians use tomatoe paste lots, and I put it in my italian spaghetti sauce as well, helps thicken it up, along with tomatoe sauce, and stewed tomatoes, among many other ingredients. (recipe came from rome)

I buy the tomatoes that are attached to their vine, quite tasty.
Tomatoes should not be refrigerated, changes flavour.


"Tomatoes should not be refrigerated, changes flavour"

I only found this out two years ago, it really made a difference in flavor.
 
AnnaG
#27
We make our own paste, too. Sauce is always made at the time we need it and the paste is the frozen part. It already has the spices in it to let the spices' flavor spread around. We just add a tomato or two when we make the sauce. Turns out just lovely.
 
#juan
#28
Quote: Originally Posted by AnnaGView Post

We make our own paste, too. Sauce is always made at the time we need it and the paste is the frozen part. It already has the spices in it to let the spices' flavor spread around. We just add a tomato or two when we make the sauce. Turns out just lovely.

Making tomato paste seems a lot of work when a can of Hunt's great tomato paste can be a low as sixty cents a can.(we buy it by the case lot) Whatever turns yer crank..
 
AnnaG
#29
Yep. Homemade beats storebought and we can make a few gallons in a day complete with seasonings. And as I say, just to make sauce needs a fresh tomato or two. And we don't even need to turn the crank (costs money to buy Hunts and the gas used to go get it). Besides, we like gardening a whole lot more than shopping and we have a better appreciation for the food we get for ourselves rather than the stuff someone else got and packaged.
 
#juan
#30
Quote: Originally Posted by AnnaGView Post

Yep. Homemade beats storebought and we can make a few gallons in a day complete with seasonings. And as I say, just to make sauce needs a fresh tomato or two. And we don't even need to turn the crank (costs money to buy Hunts and the gas used to go get it). Besides, we like gardening a whole lot more than shopping and we have a better appreciation for the food we get for ourselves rather than the stuff someone else got and packaged.

I think we have different ideas as to what tomato paste is. To make "a few gallons" of tomato paste, you would need to skin and remove the seeds, and stew down and puree about a hundred pounds or more of tomatoes... I know some brands of tomato paste have seasoning but I prefer to use my own seasoning for each dish.
Last edited by #juan; Aug 3rd, 2009 at 01:41 PM..
 

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