There’s nothing like a fresh tasty local tomato! And there is a tomato for every palate. You can find sweet, tart, balanced, and earthy tomatoes. You can find all sizes, shapes, textures, and colors as well!
Most people prefer a balanced tomato, with both sweet and acidic flavors. You may prefer a juicy tomato, or a meaty one. When a tasty local tomato is right, you know it.
Red and pink tomatoes are usually sweeter and less acidic. Orange, yellow, and white ones are less acidic and thus are more mild tasting. Black or purple tomatoes are fairly balanced with sweet and acid, and have other complex flavors to complement them. Cherry and grape tomatoes, no matter what color, are often sweeter than their full size counterparts.
Tomatoes are one of those foods that taste great cooked and raw. You can make them into jam, or dry them, or juice them. You can find them available year round, but they are only really good in season.
Fortunately, there are many ways to preserve in-season tomatoes for later. Try frying them green, marinating in olive oil, adding to pizza, making into sauces, pastes, or stewed. You can juice them, make tomato jam, or sun dried tomato sauce. Eat them on their own or with other ingredients.
Tomatoes are a summer crop, and need full sun to grow well. You’ll start seeing locally grown tomatoes in July, and they stick around until September. At the farmers market you’ll see all colors and sizes and tastes.
Out of season tomatoes are mostly water, and lack the sugars and acidity to make them good tasting tomatoes. I prefer buying them in season and preserving them for later. If you want delicious fresh tomatoes, look no further than your farmers market, CSA, or backyard garden!
Tasty Local Tomato Varieties
Tomatoes are one of those veggies that comes in many varieties. You have different colors, different sizes and shapes, plus heirloom versus hybrid, and determinate versus indeterminate.
Traditional tomatoes are red, but there are lots of colors out there! From your local farm you’ll find green, white, orange, yellow, purple, black, pink, and striped. A whole rainbow for your taste buds.
You can find cherry and grape tomatoes for snacking. Romas for sauces and slicing tomatoes for everything. Some of those are oblong, some are round, some are squat. Some are bumpy while others are smooth. All are delicious, and a far cry from those reddish uniform winter tomatoes in the grocery stores.
You will see heirloom and hybrid varieties. Heirloom simply means an unhybridized tomato. And it’s not a regulated term, so anyone can call their tomatoes heirloom. It’s become a trendy word to sell us more stuff. Yet true heirlooms can be where you find some of the most unique colors, shapes, and flavors of tomatoes.
A hybrid tomato is also delicious. However, the seeds of that tomato won’t breed true, and thus can’t be passed on. Hybrid tomatoes may have better disease resistance, so they may need less pesticides to grow well.
The best bet to make sure you get a good tomato is to visit the farmers market and talk with your farmer. Often they offer samples for tasting, and you can talk to them about which tomatoes you like best. Or you can do what i do – buy some of all of them and then have a lot of fun trying them at home.
Finally, we have determinate versus indeterminate. Unless you are a gardener, you aren’t likely to run across those terms. Determinate varieties are tomato vines that only grow to a certain size, rather than continuing throughout the season. It’s important to match the right type of vine to your growing circumstances, but it doesn’t mean you can’t find full flavored tomatoes on each variety of plant.
Preserving the Bounty
Tasty local tomatoes are one of those vegetables that can be preserved easily in many different ways. Freezing is not the best option because flavors are lost quickly. Drying, freezing sauces and canning are all great ways to preserve the harvest.
Freezing for the short term can work if you have extra fresh tomatoes but no time to can or dry them immediately. A frozen tomato can be run under warm water and the skin will slip right off of it.
Canning tomatoes is simple because it’s one of the few vegetables that you can water bath can as is, rather than acidifying it or having to pressure can it. Water bath can it diced, whole, as a puree, or a sauce for later. There are tested salsa recipes as well for canning online.
Dried tomatoes can add serious flavor to dishes because all the flavors are concentrated. You can dry all types of tomatoes, as long as they are in uniform slices. use dried tomatoes in sauces, as snacks, or sliced up and added to other dishes.
Tasty Local Tomato Recipes
There are a ton of tomato recipes out there, from a simple tomato salad to the more exotic options. Here are some of the more unique ones I found:
Tomatoes are from South America, but moved north until it was domesticated in Central America. They have been cultivated there since 500 BC, and arrived in Europe after AD 1500.
Even though tomatoes became extremely popular in parts of Europe and Asia, when the tomato arrived in England it was thought to be poisonous. People in North America and England believed this rumor and avoided eating tomatoes until 1820, allegedly.
On June 28, 1820, Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson redeemed the tomato’s reputation. At the county courthouse in Salem, New Jersey, Col. Johnson ate tomatoes in front of a crowd of about 2000 people. Tomatoes have since become one of the most popular vegetables around.