Summer time means one thing to many produce eaters…. It’s tomato season. For our Farm Share members who are with us for the majority of the season, we wanted to give you a one-stop place for all things tomatoes. You can learn about the different varieties you’ll be able to select from here. All tomatoes have their nuances… how quickly they ripen, their shelf life, the best way to eat them, just to name a few. Read on to learn what you might be like before placing your weekly order.
Sungold. The only cherry we grow every year, and there’s a reason for it. Bite-sized tangerine colored with a super sweet flavor.
Pink Bumblebee. New for 2021, selected mainly because the color is so fun. An alluring combination of light pinks, yellows and oranges.
Cherokee Purple (Heirloom). A pre-1890 variety with deep, dusky purple-pink color, and sweet rich flavor. This is the heirloom that you’ll think about in the dead of winter when you’re hankering for those summer flavors. Short shelf life, but doesn’t last on the counter long since the taste will make you want to grab it for every meal. Simply delicious cut up with a hint of sea salt. Due to their large size, they are at times also considered beefsteak tomatoes.
Black Krim (Heirloom). New for 2021. A Russian Heirloom with maroon fruit and green shoulders. Rich flavor with a hint of saltiness. Looks similar to Cherokee Purple, but does have subtle taste differences. We are trialing these outdoors, so expect more cracking with this variety. Any tomatoes with cracks do not store long, eat quick! At times they are considered beefsteaks due to their large size.
Big Rainbow (Heirloom). New for 2021, we’re growing as an alternative to the yellow beefsteak. This yellow slicer will be the crowd stopper for your salads and bruschetta. Not just because they are delicious and sweet tasting but because this yellow fruit has streaks of neon red running through flesh.
Wisconsin 55. We can’t pass up a slicer with Wisconsin in the name. This is your standard go-to slicer for burgers and traditional tomato needs. If you prefer the straight and narrow with you tomatoes, this is your tomato. Shelf life will be longer when compared to Heirlooms.
Better Bush and Celebrity. New for 2021. Two more alternative traditional red slicers that we’re trialing outside. Updates to come on flavor differences. Any red slicer orders this year will be either Wisconsin 55, Better Bush or Celebrity.
Green Zebra (Heirloom). For the more adventurous tomato eaters, Green Zebra is another beauty. It has deep lime green stripes. Don’t let the green fool you into thinking it’s not ripe… the ripeness shows itself when the skin turns a bit yellow. It has a bit of a bite to it (in a way that is just too good to describe!). This is a tomato that many seem to gravitate too at the end of the season once folks taste its unique flavor. For those interested in trying “green tomatoes”, Green Zebras can be harvested premature for those types of recipes too!
Roma Paste. New for 2021. We’re growing traditional Romas this year for all the salsa making and canning. We’ll have a heavy supply of onions and peppers for Farm Share members, so these Romas supplement nicely for making pico de gallo and salsas.
Beefsteak (Heirloom). A traditional red beefsteak, great for your sandwich and burger toppings. Due to their size, they are also great for homemade pasta sauce. So grab the basil and beefsteaks, and get those stock pots going.
Storage suggestions: Tomatoes are most flavorful when eaten at room temperature. Tomatoes you receive will be ripe and ready to eat. You can keep them on your kitchen counter. If you store this way, we’d recommend eating heirloom tomatoes within 1-2 days, while cherries have a bit longer shelf life of 4-6 days. If you want to extend their shelf life, you can refrigerate! However, they won’t be as tasty, so prior to eating get them back up to room temp by setting on the counter until they’ve warmed up.
Tomatoes are delicate. And any injury to their flesh will decrease their shelf life. We will transport all tomatoes in pulp pints. Heirlooms are especially sensitive (a reason why many mechanized producers do not grow). Remove heirlooms from the pints when you receive so as not to squish them. Any injured tom should be eaten right away, it may not last.
Tomatoes are imperfect. We select our tomato varieties based on flavor and uniqueness. Which is different than grocery stores, where many tomatoes are bread for their ability to be transported. On the flip side, flavorful and strikingly beautiful tomatoes come with quirks. You may notice cracks, odd markings or odd shapes. This does not detract from their taste. However, if the fruit is bruised, eat quickly, or cut around that area (the rest of the fruit may be perfectly fine).
Seconds. During the season, tomatoes with too much cracking or damage will be discounted. They’re still tasty and in need of a home, but not up to par quality-wise. Though-out the summer you may see tomato “seconds” offered as an Add-on. Seconds are great for soups, stews, sauces, canning and other bulk or large batch recipes.
If you have any questions or comments about your tomatoes, reach out. As newish farmers, we’re still learning too and use the feedback to adjust our growing, storage and transportation practices.
<3 Two Tired July Farmers, Lauren and Bryan