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Foodday

 

About Tomatoes and Tomato Sauce
plus Pasta Recipes

 

Ripening Stages of Tomatoes

Green Breakers
tomato tomato

"Green" means that the surface of the tomato is completely green in color. The shade of green may vary from light to dark.

"Breakers" means there is a definite "break" in color from green, to tannish-yellow, pink or red on not more than 10% of the surface.

Turning Pink
tomato tomato

"Turning means that more than 10% but not more than 30% of the surface, in the aggregate, shows a definite change in color from green to tannish-yellow, pink, red or a combination thereof.

"Pink" means that more than 30% but not more than 60% of the surface, in the aggregate, shows pink or red in color.

Light Red Red
tomato tomato

"Light red" means that more than 60% of the surface, in the aggregate shows pinkish-red or red, provided that not more than 90% of the surface is red.

"Red" means that more than 90% of the surface, in the aggregate, is red.

 
What are "Pinks"?

When is a mature green tomato a vine ripe? When a mature green tomato is picked 'pink' with at least 30% pink.

Pink is used to refer to mature green harvest with color. It applies to vine ripes according to some USDA standards.

Pinks will often be treated with ethylene to hasten ripening.

 
California Tomato Chart

Peak Seasons

  Vine ripes     Mature greens     Romas  
May-Dec Jun-Oct Jun-Oct
Early shipments:
April May May
Late shipments:
Jan Nov Nov
 
Harvesting
Vine ripes Mature greens Romas
Stages 2-3
Some varieties Stage 4 Harvested several times over a period of weeks
Stages 1-2
Harvest once when mature, ripened with Ethylene, the plant's natural hormone.
Either vine ripe or at the mature green stage
 
Shipping
Vine ripes Mature greens Romas
Place pack containers 2-3 layer, 25 lb. bulk containers Place pack containers 2-3 layer; 25 lb. bulk containers Place pack containers 2-3 layer; 25 lb. bulk containers
 
Growing Methods
Vine ripes Mature greens Romas
Grown on poles Grown on poles Grown on poles and bushes
 
Growing Area
Vine ripes Mature greens Romas
Southern California
Baja California
Imperial Valley
Salinas Valley
Southern Calif
Baja Calif
San Joaquin
Valley Salina Valley
 
Additional Information

Vine ripes are picked at first blush for longer shelf life. Post harvest handling is critical—they should not be handled at temperatures under 55 degrees F. Vine ripes are delicate and bruise easily—handle with care.

Romas are consumer favorites due to hearty flavor. They withstand cooler temperatures better than Mature greens. Romas constitute ten percent of all California tomato production.

Mature greens are sometimes called "gassed greens." Picked when fully developed—the locules and gel have formed—but are still completely green. To quicken ripening process, some tomatoes are exposed to ethylene, a natural emitting hormone. Post harvest handling is critical—they should not by handled at temperatures under 55 degrees F. Although mature, these are still in early stages of ripening. Cold temperatures retard ripening fruit and cause cell structure to breakdown, resulting in a mushy texture.

 

Pasta Three Ways—California Style

pasta

Tomato Sauce with Ricotta & Herbs

Yield: 24 Servings

Ingredients

  • Chopped onions—(36 oz) / 8 cups
  • Minced garlic— 2 Tbsp.
  • Olive oil—6 Tbsp.
  • California Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced—(18 lbs.) / 9 qts.
  • Chopped fresh marjoram—6 Tbsp
  • Chopped fresh rosemary—4 tsp.
  • Salt—1 Tbsp
  • Sugar—1 Tbsp
  • Black pepper—2 tsp.
  • Fettucine—3 lbs.
  • Ricotta cheese—(1-1/2 lbs.) / 1-1/2 cups

Directions

Sauté onions and garlic in oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until softened.

Stir in remaining ingredients except ricotta, fettucine. Cook over medium high heat stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes, or until sauce thickens.

Top each serving with 1 oz. (1 Tbsp.) ricotta cheese. (or use 2 Tbsp. dried oregano and 1 tsp. dried rosemary.)

 

Garden Tomato Sauce

Yield: 24 Servings

Ingredients

  • Chopped onions—(23 oz.) / 5 cups
  • Olive oil—2 oz. / 1/4 cup
  • California Tomatoes, whole—(7 lbs) / 4 cans (28 oz ea.)
  • Cubed zucchini —(2-1/2 lbs) / 2 qts.
  • Corn kernels—(2 lbs) / 1 qt.
  • Minced garlic—1 Tbsp.
  • Salt—2 tsp.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes—1 tsp.
  • Sugar—2 Tbsp.
  • Chopped fresh basil—1-1/3 cups
  • Rotelli pasta—3 lbs.

Directions

Sauté onions in olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until soft.

Stir in canned tomatoes in their liquid and remaining ingredients, except basil and pasta. Cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.

Stir in basil.

 

Warm Tomato-Pepper Sauce

Yield: 24 Servings

Ingredients

  • Chopped red bell peppers—(3-3/4 lbs) / 2-1/2 qts.
  • Thinly sliced green onions—(12 oz.) / 5 cups
  • Minced garlic—3 Tbsp.
  • Olive oil—1/3 cup
  • California Tomatoes, seeded and diced—(16-1/2 lbs.) / 8 qts.
  • Grated Parmesan cheese—(7 oz.) / 1-2/3 cups
  • Chopped parsley—1 cup
  • Black pepper—2-1/2 tsp.
  • Cayenne pepper—3/4 tsp.
  • Penne pasta—3 lbs.

Directions

Sauté peppers, onions and garlic in oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until vegetables are tender-crisp.

Stir in tomatoes; cook over high heat until sauce thickens, 10-15 minutes.

Stir in remaining ingredients except pasta.

In each sauce recipe, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with sauce. Place approximately 16 oz. pasta on each plate.

 

Provided by California Tomato Board

This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.

 
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This page modified January 2007


 

 
 

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