Varieties of Tomatoes
It is simple to get an impression of the infinite number of tomato varieties even only by seeing the counters in supermarkets and the wholesalers of tomatoes: there are the table consumption varieties, with globe-round fruits, smooth or ribbed, that can range in size and are classified as indeterminate varieties with progressive maturation.
In Italy 300 tomato varieties are recorded, while worldwide tomato varieties for the production and the processing are more than 1,700: however, only 60 of the latter are used in the fruit and vegetable trade.
Usually there are different typologies of tomatoes and in each typology there are several tomato varieties or species.
The most common varieties are the beefsteak tomato (Arawak species), tomatoes for salads (Bubu, Camone, Carson species), the Marmande tomato (Marinda species), mini-elongate or “mini Perino” tomato (Dunne species), the elongated Perino tomato (Lancelot, Oskar and Parsifal species), the red cluster tomato (Ikram species), the mini cocktail tomato (Iskra, Tyty species), the Cherry tomato (Genio, Maria Vittoria species), the Vesuvian tomato (Piccadilly, Pixel and Snack species), the Marmande tomato, the Money Marker tomato, the Early Pack tomato and lastly some hybrids such as the Montecarlo and the Fandango.
Tomato varieties such as Camone, Marzanino, Naram and Brired are also popular and valued. They are international species of tomatoes that, thanks to the import and export of tomatoes among countries, have favourably met customers' tastes.
The tomatoes of those varieties used for the production of peeled tomatoes have an elongated, pear-like shape and among them the most valued are the San Marzano or the Marzanino (an hybrid of the mini San Marzano species). However, they are not suitable for the cultivation in open field because they have to be staked to support the fruit.
The MARZANINO is an hybrid species originating from the mini San Marzano species: it is a tomato with a high Lycopene content, whose fruits have a typical taste and flavour. Its shape is similar to that of the classic “San Marzano” tomato, but scaled-down, narrowed near the top at ¾ of its length, with a light green back and it is 6-8 cm long. The Marzanino tomato is similar to the San Marzano only for its shape, while it has increasingly improved both the colour and the taste, much more similar to a “cherry” tomato or to a “datterino” tomato. The rachis is fleshy and stays fresh for long time.
The Marzanino, perfect for table consumption or for industrial processing to produce tomato sauces and concentrates, is nowadays well known and widespread, thanks to producers, farms and wholesalers involved in tomatoes’ production and retailing sector, who deal with its import/export.
The NARAM tomato, on the contrary, is an "oval-shaped” medium early cycle variety, suitable for the cultivation in greenhouses. The fruit is big-sized, bearing on average 110 g., with a beautiful colour, firstly green but that becomes completely red when it is ripe. Both the fruits and the rachis have a great shelf life; the plant is strong, with a great productive and qualitative potential. This tomato variety is particularly suitable for table consumption and you can find it in most fruit and vegetable farms that produce tomatoes, but are provided also by wholesalers (see the list of farms that produce tomatoes).
The BRIRED tomato is an hybrid of the cluster typology, particularly suitable for the cultivation in greenhouses. It has a very early cycle, has a great productive potential and can easily adapt to different soils. The fruits bear on average 130-135 g. and have an astounding colour and brightness.
The clusters are regular with a typical herringbone pattern. These tomatoes are suitable both for table consumption and for industrial processing and long term retailing.
There are also other tomato varieties, such as those for the production of tomato concentrates; these varieties usually have the shape of a stretched out square ad are determinate. The most valued varieties are those that can be harvested mechanically, as they have a concurrent maturation and the berries can resist to shocks.
Instead, tomatoes for table consumption are usually harvested when they are not completely ripe, because they are enjoyed in salads and recipes for which they are better fresh; on the other hand, tomatoes grown for industrial processing are harvested when completely ripe, because they are more juicy, fleshy and tasty and therefore better for tomatoes puree and concentrates.
However, the CAMONE variety is probably the most known: it was introduced in the mid Eighties in the South of Sardinia, becoming a product known and valued worldwide, because of its resistance to several physiopathologies that cause severe damage to tomato cultivations in greenhouses. The successful combination of taste, resistance and adaptability to different climates permitted to extend its cultivation also to different areas, making a great commercial success out of this product, that nowadays is imported and exported in any country by farms, wholesalers and salespersons.
The Camone tomato is actually a tomato with a unique and strong personality. It is Italian at 100% and producers, traders, retailers and consumers have the certainty of a final product with all the characteristics that give the tomato the right to be defined as safe, Italian ad exclusive.
The Camone tomato is a little tomato for salads, round, that can bear about 60-80 g. Its colour is special because of the deep green on its top that can be more or less wide depending on the maturation degree of the fruit, that usually is preferred when it is not completely ripe.
The average production of tomatoes can vary, but usually it is about 700-800 q/ha for tomatoes used for table consumption and about 500-600 q/ha for tomatoes that are going to be processed.
The main products deriving by the processing are peeled tomatoes, fruits without their peel and canned, concentrates that have a percentage of dried deposit between the 12-15%, tomato juices and sweet and sour sauces.
The residual of the tomatoes’ processing, like peels and seeds are instead used to prepare fodder for animals after the extraction of the oil from the seeds.
If talking about tomatoes we usually think of a product that is typically Italian, also the author of the name from which the current denomination comes is Italian at 100%: it was the father of Italian botany, Andrea Mattioli (1501-1577), who introduced in his work Medici Senensis Commentarii the Latin denomination mala aurea, that afterwards was translated literally “pomo doro”, or golden apple.
The qualities of tomatoes are precious and infinite: you might consider that, already since 1500 tomatoes were considered to have aphrodisiac properties and that, for this reason, it was used in potions, who gave origin to the expressions " love apple, Liebesapfel, pomme d'amour or pomme d'or” in England, Germany and France.
Nowadays, with the exception of Italy, the old denominations have been replaced by words that originate from the Aztec tòmatl , term that in general indicated plants with round fruits, juicy flesh and lots of seeds.