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These Off-Season Tomatoes Taste Like Summer

March 14, 2024
Lizzy Briskin

I spend all year looking forward to the crop of tomatoes from my family’s garden in southern Vermont. IMO, there’s no better first bite than that of a funny-looking multi-colored heirloom tomato bursting with juice freshly picked from the vine. And while I will always place those summer tomatoes on their rightful pedestal, a new variety of vine-grown fruits has turned my head at the grocery store. 

If you’re a tomato lover like me, keep an eye out for Hiiros Tomatoes in the produce department and pick up a pint or two to have that sweet summer tomato experience, no matter the season. 

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What are Hiiros?

Hiiros Tomatoes originated in Japan, where close attention to detail and high expectations for flavor led producers to create a bright red (Hiiros is Japanese for scarlet) tomato variety that’s incredibly sweet and full of umami

The golf ball-sized tomatoes are pretty much uniform, with a nearly perfect spherical shape. Their skin is taught, wrinkle-free, and usually unmarked. They’re often sold in clamshells still clinging to their deep green vine. 

Where are they grown?

Nature Fresh Farms, a Canada-based produce manufacturing company, started growing Hiiros in the States in 2020 and released the fruit to the market in 2022. The tomatoes are grown in greenhouses from non-GMO seeds, and they’re available year round. 

I’ve found that most greenhouse-grown tomatoes available in the off seasons (at least in New York City) are mealy, flavorless, and pale. Hiiros are a bold red exception to this rule. 

Plus, they’re easy to find: Hiiros are sold at Target, Wegman’s, Costco, Sam’s Club, Whole Foods, and other grocery stores throughout the country. 

Health benefits of Hiiros

Like all vine-ripened tomatoes, Hiiros are “high in lycopene, antioxidants, and vitamins A and C,” says Krysta Markham, communications and content manager for Nature Fresh Farms. They’re also a good source of fiber

How to eat Hiiros

Hiiros are so sweet and juicy, you can pop them like candy. (I’ve been known to snack on them while cooking dinner.) But they’re also highly versatile in the kitchen. Markham recommends this recipe for Hiiros miso soba noodles, which harkens to the fruit’s Japanese heritage. 

You also can pair them with other umami-rich ingredients, like parmesan cheese, mushrooms, anchovies, and miso. Plus, the fruits add sweetness to classic savory dishes like tarts, pastas, and pizzas. Having friends over? Serve up delicious caprese skewers with fresh Hiiros. 

What’s the best way to store Hiiros Tomatoes?

“The kitchen counter is actually the best spot for your tomatoes to be stored,” says Markham. “Storing your tomatoes on the counter will allow them to continue ripening and further develop their flavor.” 

Read next: 7 Spring Dinner Ideas That Make the Most of Vegetables


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