The distinction between commercial and non-commercial tomatoes is more important than the differences between tomatoes, whether hybrid and open-pollinated, or heirloom.
Commercial tomatoes have to stand up to shipping all over the country and even all over the world. They have to be very firm with thick skins that will tolerate that kind of abuse. They have to hold well, that means to stay ripe for a long time before they go bad. They also have to be very uniform in size, shape, and color. People expect a tomato to be round and red all over – and so they are. All of these qualities take precedence over texture and flavor.
The good news is many are becoming less duped by the “perfect” grocery store tomato. There is a growing demand for freshly harvested tomatoes, and small farmers like us, are growing them for market. What sets places like Hattie’s Garden apart from commercial growers is that we live on a farm and grow our own tomatoes.
It can be a lot of work getting these fussy tomatoes from the field into your kitchen. They do not tolerate stacking – they must be placed in a single-layer in boxes or trays. Especially for larger tomatoes, they must be placed upside down so they don’t get crushed by their own weight. They must be picked when they are a little under-ripe or they will never make it. These tomatoes wait for no one. You eat the tomato when they tomato is ready. And they do taste so much better.