See our tomato guide for photos and brief descriptions of the tomatoes we're growing at the farm in 2017!
Tomatoes, native to Latin America, are now enjoyed worldwide and are a staple in many types of cuisine. Tomatoes are from the nightshade family (also including peppers, potatoes, and eggplant, to name a few). There are thousands of varieties of tomatoes known, with hundreds that are actually cultivated. Commercial varieties tend to be selected for optimal transport (shapes that pack well into boxes and thick skins, for instance), while market growers tend to focus more on varieties that emphasize flavor, nutrition, and disease resistance. Popular types of tomato include slicers, paste or roma, and cherry tomatoes. Tomatoes are very sensitive to cold, but thrive in the summer heat. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A, C and K, and potassium. Tomatoes are also a great source of lycopene, an antioxidant that increases in availability when tomatoes are cooked. Lycopene has been associated with a lower risk of certain cancers and other conditions such as cardiovascular risks.
Tomatoes store at room temperature for up to a week, or longer if they are still ripening. Do not refrigerate. Damaged or cut tomatoes will start to deteriorate quickly. Tomatoes can be frozen whole – simply core tomatoes, place on a cookie sheet and freeze; then transfer to a freezer bag and store in freezer (these tomatoes once thawed should be used in cooking or purees). Salsa, sauces, and purees can also be frozen.
Tomatoes are incredibly versatile – they can be sautéed, baked, broil, grilled, or eaten fresh. To remove tomato skins, put whole tomatoes in boiling water for 15-30 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon, and remove skins. For a quick and easy side dish, slice tomatoes and arrange on a plate; drizzle with olive oil (or a vinaigrette), chopped herbs such as basil or parsley, and a dash of salt and pepper. Tomatoes are tasty fried or broiled with thin slices of cheese on top – remove from heat when tomatoes soften and begin to bubble and cheese is melted. Add chunks of tomatoes to summer soups or stews, or puree tomatoes for a soup stock.
Easy Cherry Tomato and Cucumber Salad
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 small cucumber
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
Pinch of sugar
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
Stem the cherry tomatoes and slice in half. Cut cucumber in half crosswise, quarter the halves, and slice. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or so. Serve at room temperature. Makes 4 servings. (Recipe from Jenny Bonde and Rink DaVee, Shooting Star Farm, in From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce (Third Edition).)
15 small fresh mozzarella balls
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 bunch basil
30 skewers or toothpicks
Halve the mozzarella balls and tomatoes. Toss with oil, and add salt and pepper to taste. Tear basil into bite-size leaves. Skewer a piece of mozzarella, a piece of basil, and a tomato half onto a skewer or toothpick; repeat with remaining ingredients and skewers. Makes 6 appetizer servings. (Recipe adapted from MACSAC, in From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce (Third Edition).)
Oven-roasting tomatoes concentrates their sugars and is good for both preserving bumper crops and enhancing the flavor of those that are not at their peak. In fact, this recipe can even save a batch that’s been refrigerated. Use roasted tomatoes in salads, pizzas, pastas, and any other recipe in place of fresh or sun-dried tomatoes. Yields about 4 cups.
Olive oil or nonstick spray
Fresh Roma tomatoes (about 15 to fill a single baking sheet), halved
Preheat an oven to 250°F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil or with nonstick spray. Arrange the tomato halves on the prepared sheet, cut side up. Bake for about 1 hour, until the tomatoes are roasted and the edges are crisp and dry. Remove from the oven and let cool. Freeze the roasted tomatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet. When they are frozen, remove them to freezer bags and seal. To serve, chop and add to prepared pasta sauce, put on homemade pizza, etc.
(Recipe by Sherry Minkus, in Farm-Fresh and Fast: Easy Recipes and Tips for Making the Most of Fresh, Seasonal Foods.)
Cherry Tomato Salad with Soy Sauce
The combination of soy sauce and tomatoes is fantastic…If you have time, let this salad sit at room temperature for up to 15 minutes to release some of the juice from the tomatoes. The dressing tints them with a deeply flavored mahogany glaze.
2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
4 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved crosswise
½ cup fresh basil leaves, preferably Thai basil
Freshly ground black pepper
Combine the soy sauce, sugar, and oil in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes and basil and sprinkle liberally with pepper. Stir gently to coat the tomatoes with the dressing. Let stand at room temperature for up to 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Taste, add more soy sauce and black pepper if you like, and serve.
(Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman.)
Fried Green Tomatoes
Green tomatoes, sliced about 1/3" thick
Salt and pepper
Put flour, salt and pepper in a gallon size bag. Put two slices of tomatoes in at a time and shake to coat all sides. Set aside, and repeat. Put olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry tomato slices (do not crowd) and flip to other side; cover for a couple of minutes with lid. Place on plate with paper towels to absorb oil. Add salt and pepper, and serve hot.