Valley Sun Products, Inc. contracts with the largest tomato grower/processor in the Central California area during December of each year to assure that the best tomatoes are planted for drying.
Our growers observe strict State and Federal safety guidelines in growing the tomatoes for Valley Sun Products, Inc. to assure they are of the finest quality and that they conform to Valley Sun Products, Inc.’s requirements.
Our tomatoes are harvested at the peak of their maturity and transported in gondolas specially designed for the gentle transport of tomatoes. Each load is inspected by the State of California to provide independent evaluation of quality. In addition, Valley Sun Products, Inc.’s agreement with the grower allows us to carefully select only the highest quality tomatoes available for each day.
The tomatoes are rushed to the plant for processing to assure that they maintain their flavor and color. Even after the tomatoes arrive at the plant, Valley Sun Products, Inc.’s Quality Assurance personnel again inspect the tomatoes and send those trucks back which don’t meet Valley Sun Products, Inc.’s high standards of quality.
The tomatoes are gently removed from the gondolas with water, which minimizes damage during unloading and begins the process of washing & sorting.
The tomatoes go through several washing stations, each followed by fresh water rinses, so that the tomatoes are clean before they are cut. An electronic color sorter and trained sorting staff remove any tomatoes that are not at the peak of ripeness, are too small or damaged.
State-of-the-art high-speed machines slice each tomato and specially designed conveyors move the cut tomatoes onto Valley Sun Products, Inc. designed drying trays. Each tomato is checked to ensure the cut side is up, allowing the tomatoes to dry properly.
The trays are stacked onto pallets and the pallets are placed in sulfur rooms where the tomatoes are cured prior to drying, much like a smokehouse. Valley Sun Products, Inc. uses elemental sulfur which helps maintain the bright color of the tomato, inhibits microbiological growth during the drying process, and contributes to the flavor of the product.
After sulfuring, the pallets are moved to the fully paved and fenced drying yard and each tray is laid out to allow full exposure to the sun. The sulfur slowly dissipates from the tomatoes, to a level sufficient enough to enhance the tomatoes’ tangy sweet flavor and bright ruby red color.
Over a period of days (4-10) the rays of the sun dry the tomatoes. The slow gentle drying process imparts that special flavor so distinctive of authentically Sun Dried Tomatoes.
When Quality Assurance personnel determine the tomatoes have been Sun Dried to the optimum moisture level the tomatoes are removed from the trays and mechanically sized.
After the initial sorting, the tomatoes are placed in large bins, lined with poly bags, and frozen to maintain color and flavor. Sun Dried Tomatoes must be treated with care and should be considered semi-perishable (like many fine gourmet foods).
Throughout the year when orders are received, the Sun Dried Tomatoes are brought out of cold storage and sorted again by skilled workers who have been trained to remove those tomato pieces that would not be acceptable to our customers.
According to our customers’ specifications, the Sun Dried Tomatoes may be julienned, diced, chopped or powdered and may be packed in a number of different manners. We are Kosher certified by the Orthodox Union.
To assure that each customer receives our Sun Dried Tomatoes in superior quality condition, the final product is rushed to its destination by refrigerated trucks or overnight service.