Parsons Homegrown Tomatoes

As people around the area wait for tomato season to begin, folks who shop at the Santa Rosa Farmers Market have a source of tasty tomatoes year round. Parsons Homegrown Tomatoes are picked ripe and never refrigerated. This year the Parsons tomato is “Grace” a beefsteak variety .
Parsons tomatoes are pesticide free.

“The tomatoes, sold at the Santa Rosa Saturday Farmer’s Market by Parsons, have become so renowned they’re now featured by name at a variety of locations throughout Sonoma County. Oliver’s Markets were the first to showcase Parsons Tomatoes. They can also be ordered by name at Farmhouse Inn and Rosso Pizzeria and Wine Bar.
“Hydroponic has gotten a bad name because it’s a big commercial technique,” she explained. “But in those they’re picked green. We just leave them on the vine until they’ve gotten to be at least orange and they’ll continue to ripen. I just learned through trial and error” from the Press Democrat

The biggest enemy of true tomato taste is refrigeration.
“Ronald G. Buttery and colleagues
at the department’s research center in Albany, Calif., have identified an enzyme system that controls tomato smell. When a tomato is cut, linolenic acid is converted by enzymes into Z-3-hexenal. This chemical is largely responsible for fresh tomato smell. The researchers have also discovered that refrigerating a tomato turns off the enzyme system. A cold tomato sliced open is far less aromatic and less tasty, since taste and smell are so intertwined. Tomato lovers have known this for some time, too”

It’s an ez science experiment
to see the impact of refrigeration on the taste and smell of a tomato
The tomatoes we used in the previous experiment were also alive, and they reacted to the cold of the refrigerator. Imagine if we put you some place very cold. Your body would react, giving you chill bumps, making you shiver, etc. At you got colder, more and more things in your body would change. Putting the tomato into the refrigerator caused changes too. When it gets cold enough, something called “chill injury” happens. The cell membranes change their structure, becoming more gel-like, giving the tomato a mealy texture. Oxygen levels are reduced, and carbon dioxide levels are increased. The chemical process of ripening stops completely. All sorts of enzymes and other chemicals are released. Sugar content changes. So do the chemicals responsible for the flavor and smell.

The factors that make a tomato a tomato
“Did you know color makes no difference in the flavor or nutritional goodness of tomatoes? You may say your tastebuds tell a different story! In fact, researchers have shown that the mind or psychology play a major role in taste and selection of tomato varieties among home gardeners. Researchers also found the primary differences in taste of tomatoes has to do with the meatiness of a tomato, the concentration of seeds and gel or juiciness of a tomato. Sweetness and acidity is also in part a result of whether a tomato variety is meaty or juicy, as well as being influenced by the number of days to maturity. The longer a tomato has to mature on the vine, the higher the sugar content can be.
Some beefsteak varieties have long been grown for their meatiness, but some beefsteaks have more seeds and gel than others do. Many pink and yellow tomato varieties are meatier and have fewer seeds and less gel, giving them a milder taste. Plum and pear tomatoes, developed more than a century ago in Italy, have firm flesh with few seeds and gel, and cook down to a thick paste or sauce.
Tomato color depends on varying amounts of carotene pigments in their flesh and skin. Most tomatoes are high in lycopene, the pigment that makes tomatoes red. Tomatoes also have varying proportions of betacarotene, the yellow-orange pigment found in carrots and other orange vegetables. Red tomatoes can range in color from deep purple, fiery red to pink. And yellow tomatoes range from orange to lemon yellow and even white. Though pigment determines color, no variety is healthier for you than another.”