We wanted to provide a guide to the tomatoes we’re growing this year so that you can identify peak ripeness!
This year, we are growing three different large tomato varieties.
Grown from a cross between two great-tasting heirloom tomato varieties. This is considered a “black” tomato (more like dark red). Black tomatoes are our absolute favorite for their rich, slightly salty flavor. This is the largest size tomato that we’re growing and it’s perfect for thick, meaty slices on a sandwich or any other context where you might want a large slice of tomato. As you can see from the picture above, they can have slightly green shoulders even when ripe but they are ready to eat!
Best for: BLTs, sandwiches
A beautiful yellow tomato with a red blush. Sometimes the red “blush” is actually fairly large. If you see this tomato in your box, don’t mistake it for a red tomato that hasn’t ripened yet! At the market, this tomato has also nearly been mistaken for a fresh peach! If only!
Best for: Colorful salsas/pico, golden tomato sauce
Developed in 1934 by Rutgers University in cooperation with Campbell’s Soup for the New Jersey canning industry. This is a classic red tomato. We grew this one last year when we were at the Organic Farm School out in Washington and saved some of the seed to bring back to Iowa. Great for fresh eating and also for canning. We are growing this variety outside (instead of in the high tunnel like the others) and we have seen a lot of cracking so far due to all the rain this year but we expect to bring more to the market in future weeks.
Best for: Canning/processing, tomato soup
How to tell if your tomato is ripe
At the market, we bring tomatoes that are ready to eat or ready to eat within the next couple days so they are not overripe by the time you get to them. Color is a great indicator of ripeness but feel is also important. Though we don’t recommend you squeeze all the tomatoes at the market, feel can be a key indicator once you get home. A ripe tomato should be firm, but have a little give when pressed gently with a finger or carefully squeezed (squeezing too hard can cause bruising). This same indicator applies to cherry tomatoes.
Not sure which one to pick for your recipe? Just ask and we will point you in the right direction. 😀
Watch for Field to Fork this week in the Driftless Journal
Kristin Eggen, Decorah Farmer’s Market manager, and I manage a monthly column in the Driftless Journal called Field to Fork. Each month features a new writer and local food-based recipe. Last month’s column included a wok veggie stir fry with mushrooms from Reconnected Farms.
From this Tuesday’s edition, here’s a tasty tomato galette recipe from Carina Cavagnaro, the head chef at La Rana Bistro.
“One of my favorite and most versatile recipes is the simple, rustic galette: an open-faced pie which can trend either sweet or savory. This savory version is a perfect way to celebrate the colorful tomatoes we have at our fingertips at this time of year,” Carina writes.