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Tomatoes on the Vine

Posted 7/21/2011 7:25pm by Don Lareau & Daphne Yannakakis.

The farm cranks along and all the hard work is about to come to fruition.  If everything can handle the rain and hail, the heat, the cold summer nights, the freak wind, the many bugs, and all of the weeds, we are going to have a great harvest!  No really we all wait for those first few home grown tomatoes and they have finally arrived, albeit a bit later than we like.   A cold spring and then the rains of July, wow.  Each year I tell the people that it never rains here and for the last two years the weather keeps proving me wrong.  Last year it was a wet August and the macro-burst, this year the early and never ending monsoon season, and who knows what is to come in August.  

But that first tomato is something else.  Our most early tomato each year is a baseball sized deep red purple tomato called Nyagous.  We love it for many reasons, it is early, it is an heirloom, it is a dark tomato (which generally means it is sweet), and it is productive.  I t goes great with another early tomato the green zebra throw in a red tomato, for us a Cosmonaut Volkov or Thessaloniki, and you have a multi colored tomato salad in July!  Our farm really likes to grow all the different colored tomatoes.   

The other tomatoes that we have been harvesting are the cherry tomatoes.  We have had the pleasure of searching for the best of the different colored cherry tomatoes.  Some make the cut for market and some just go in our own kitchen garden.  For example the white currant is the queen of sweet cherry tomatoes, send the kids to harvest and they will be harvested but not brought back to the table.  For market it is a bear to harvest and cracks too early to be of value.  It is really almost white, most ‘white’ tomatoes turn a shade of pale yellow when ripe.  The same is true of green tomatoes; they too turn a brighter yellow-green when they are ripe, as well as soften to the touch.  

Do not be afraid of these different colored tomatoes as most of them have been handed down from generation to generation, and breed for certain qualities, such as flavor, beauty, density, acidity, or sweetness.  The tomatoes in the grocery store have been handed down by the scientists who were told to make a tomato that could be harvest green shipped thousands of miles and gassed to turn red for sale.  Even the “vine ripe” tomatoes at City Market are picked green, they are just not gassed, and instead they are picked green enough that they ripen on their own in transit to the grocery store.  

The green tomatoes you get from us are not that way, but instead have a slight yellow luster that tells you they are ready for the eating.  Once you bite into a Tasty Evergreen, a Green Grape, or and Aunt Ruby’s German Green, you will have a whole new opinion of what green tomatoes are!   So next time you are at a market try something other than the standard red tomato.  Grab a hold of a green, purple, black, yellow or orange tomato and begin to experience the full range of flavors that tomatoes can provide!

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