Tomatoes picked too early will never make good salsa or marinara sauce.
Have you ever walked over to a tomato plant in your backyard, picked a perfectly ripe tomato and eaten it right there? If so, your next supermarket tomato was a major taste letdown.
The main reasons for the disappointing flavor of store-bought tomatoes—timing of harvest and distance to market—are closely related. Those tomatoes can't be picked at peak ripeness precisely because they're not coming from your backyard. Tomatoes in stores are typically grown hundreds of miles from your table, so they must be picked well before full maturity.
Maybe you've also noticed that one Italian restaurant which always has a line of hungry diners stretching out the door. Or that particular Mexican eatery that seems to have a permanent waiting list, even on weekdays. The secret to their culinary success: spaghetti sauce and salsa made using the freshest tomatoes possible. Restaurants that view their tomatoes as an afterthought, on the other hand, will never achieve the flavor potential of their dishes.
To some extent, it's hard to blame the corner supermarket and the fleeting food joint for foisting tasteless tomatoes on us. We want our tomatoes, even in the winter when they must be picked too early and shipped too far. Most supposedly fresh tomatoes are in fact grown in Florida, where climate and soil conditions require the heavy use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. These tomatoes are picked while still bright green in color (and nearly as hard as baseballs), trucked off to a warehouse and treated with ethylene gas, which turns them a pale shade of red. Then our Floridian friends are shipped across the country to a retailer near you.
Traditionally, only backyard growers have had the luxury of picking their tomatoes at peak ripeness.
These prematurely harvested tomatoes may have a superior shelf life, but on the flavor front they lose badly to tomatoes allowed to fully ripen on the vine. What's more, tomatoes picked before they are ripe are also less nutritious.
Consider the results of a recent Apeel Sciences study involving grape tomatoes:
Enter Apeel, our pioneering approach to postharvest loss reduction. Invisible, edible, and tasteless, Apeel consists of an ultra-thin, completely plant-based protective barrier applied to fruits and vegetables harvested at maximum maturity.
Traditionally, only backyard growers have had the luxury of picking their tomatoes at peak ripeness and enjoying the fruit's full flavor and health benefits. Now, Apeel is bringing the backyard to everyone.