Tomatoes

Make the most informed purchasing decisions with the information you need on tomato varieties, sizes and grades, tomato classifications, as well as tomato storage and handling tips.

Popular Tomato Varieties

Variety Primary Applications and Attributes  
Round Gas-ripened hold together better when sliced, so are good for sandwiches. Vine-ripened are generally juicier and more flavorful, best used for salads.
Roma or Plum More “meaty” with less water content, best used in for salads, diced, salsas, sauces, soups and slices for pizza.
Cherry Small size makes them best used in salads, salad bars, kabobs, garnish and stuffed.
Grape Sweeter than Cherry tomatoes. Best used for salads, salad bars, kabobs, garnish, stuffed and roasted.
Teardrop Small size and variety of colors make them best used in enhanced plate presentation, salads, garnish (whole form), stuffed or broiled.
Tomatillo Tart flavor and green color make them best used for green enchilada sauce.
Kumato Dark color makes them best used for sandwiches, salads, bruschetta, salsa and pico de gallo.
Heirloom Eye-catching colors and short shelf life make them good for trendy, high-end restaurants serving salads and chilled soups.
Mini Heirloom Colorful alternative to the more common Cherry and Grape tomatoes for salads, bruschetta, pizza, pasta and crudités.

Regular/Round Tomato Sizes

The sizes in this chart refer only to Regular/Round tomatoes.

Classification and Size Markings Minimum Diameter Maximum Diameter Application
6 x 7 — Medium 2-9/32” 2-19/32” Narrow-faced sub sandwiches or wedges/salads
6 x 6 — Large 2-17/32” 2-29/32” Slices or wedges/ salad (most versatile size)
5 x 6 — Extra Large 2-25/32” 3-5/32” Slices, large sandwiches
4 x 5 — Extra Large 3-13/32” 3-25/32” Open-faced or extra large sandwiches
  • The traditional sizing designation for tomatoes was determined by how many uniformly sized tomatoes would fit in a traditional carton (e.g., 6 x 6 = 6 wide, 6 long, 6 x 7 = 6 wide, 7 long)
  • Important! Today, the numbers seen in the product description (e.g., 5 x 6) refer to the tomato size rather than how they are packed

Medium, large and extra large size tomatoes are the equivalent of the traditional sizing designation, which was determined based on how many uniformly sized tomatoes would fit in a traditional carton.

 


Tomato Grades

The typical range of grades for tomatoes in the foodservice industry is U.S. No. 1 and U.S. No. 2.

U.S. No. 1 tomatoes must meet the following requirements:

  • Similar varietal characteristics
  • Mature, not overripe or soft
  • Clean, well developed, fairly well-formed and fairly smooth
  • Free from decay, freezing injury and sunscald
  • Not damaged by any other cause

U.S. No. 2 tomatoes Must Meet the Following Requirements:

  • Similar varietal characteristics
  • Mature, not overripe or soft
  • Clean, well-developed, reasonably well-formed and not more than slightly rough
  • Free from decay, freezing injury and sunscald
  • Not damaged by any other cause

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

  • U.S. No. 1: Good quality. The chief grade for most tomatoes
    • Customers are paying a little more when buying No. 1 tomatoes, but can expect to find consistent quality each time they open a case
  • U.S. No. 2: Just as nutritious and flavorful as the higher grades. The difference is mainly in appearance, waste and preference (the only requirement for US Foods® No. 2 tomatoes is that they have no decay.)
    • A case of No. 2s' will likely include a variety of quality levels, ranging from more severe defects to no defects. Expect variability in product quality
    • No. 2s' will more than likely have a shorter shelf life than No. 1s'
Grade No. 1 Grade No. 2
Cost more than No. 2's Cost less than No 1's
Consistent quality in every box Quality varies in each box, from some defects to no defects
Longer shelf life Byproduct of the growing process

Tomato Color Classifications

  • Green: Surface of tomato is completely green; shade of green may vary from light to dark
  • Breakers: There is a definite break in color from green to tannish-yellow, pink or red on not more than 10% of the surface
  • Turning: More than 10% but not more than 30% of the surface shows a definite change in color from green to tannish-yellow, pink, red or a combination thereof
  • Pink: More than 30% but not more than 60% of the surface shows pink or red color
  • Light Red: More than 60% of the surface shows pink or red color
  • Red: More than 99% of the surface shows red color


Tomato Storage and Handling Tips

Whole tomatoes should be stored at room temperature to ripen. Once they’re ripe, use them immediately. If you refrigerate a ripe tomato, it loses flavor.

  • If ripe tomatoes are placed in a cooler, store near the door to reduce the possibility of chill injury
  • Bulk/Whole Red Tomatoes should be stored at 50 - 55 degrees F (Black Zone)
  • Tomatoes that have been cooked, cut or put raw into a dish (like salsa) should be refrigerated at 33–39°F (Blue or Purple Zones)
  • If the kitchen is hot, tomatoes stored outside the cooler will ripen more quickly. If they are not going to be used right away, it would be better to store the tomatoes in the cooler to keep them from overripening before they are used
  • Tomatoes are delicate and bruise easily, which promotes spoiling; do not drop container on the floor or dump tomatoes