Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Whether or not there’s any truth to the centuries-old notion that the tomato is an aphrodisiac, there’s a lot to love about the varieties of tomatoes available at farmers’ markets today. In red, yellow, green, shades between, speckles, and stripes, tomatoes at their peak production present seemingly too many choices. The names of the varieties are equally intriguing and colorful: Black Prince, Early Girl, Mortgage Lifter, Green Zebra, Ivory Pear, Pineapple.

These are only a few of the possibilities. Ed George of The Peach Farm, who grows more than 100 varieties himself, says he’s seen lists of at least 500 heirloom tomato varieties.

Farmers’ market shoppers have help with the dilemma of abundance: the person who grew the tomatoes is often there to answer questions and offer advice on selection. When asked which tomato is best, Bill Crepps of Everything Under the Sun responds with a question of his own: What are you going to do with it?

For slicing, he suggests the Marvel Stripe, a meaty tomato. For a strong-flavored sauce, Crepps advises, “You can’t beat an Early Girl.” That’s also his pick for gazpacho. The Early Girl, he says, gives the soup its classic, sharp tomato flavor.

Crepps acknowledges that customers often gravitate toward heirloom tomatoes, viewing these open-pollinated varieties as traditional and authentic. In response, seed companies have made more heirlooms available to farmers. But there simply isn’t a “best-tasting” tomato. As The Peach Farm’s George says, “You take 100 people, and they’re all going to like a different one. The tomatoes are all good in their own way.”

In Season

June, July, August, September, October

Recipes with Tomatoes

Late Summer Crostini Trio

Rocky Maselli, A16 Rockridge

Tagliatelle with Squash Blossoms, Tomato, and English Peas

John Pauley, Mattarello

Peperonata

David Winsberg, Happy Quail Farms

Chicken Leg Confit, Marinated Fig and Tomato, Fried Bread, and Arugula

Daniel Corey, Luce

Articles about Tomatoes

July 12, 2012

Next Generation Farmer: Amber Balakian

Amber Balakian might not strike you as the “typical” farmer, but with her colorful tomato sauces, she is helping shepherd her family farm into a new era.

August 26, 2011

In Search of the Promised Tomatoland, Part 2: The Alternatives

Nobody wants mealy, chemical-laden, tasteless tomatoes grown by slave labor in Florida. But what are the alternatives?

August 19, 2011

In Search of the Promised Tomatoland, Part 1: The Problem

Learn about industrial Florida tomato farming in this article based on a panel with Tomatoland author Barry Estabrook and other farm and labor experts.

April 22, 2011

Energy-Efficient Spring Tomatoes

Is the term “sustainable greenhouse” an oxymoron? Paul Bruins — greenhouse engineer & tomato farmer — says no!

September 17, 2010

Salsational!

Food War at Ferry Plaza adds local flavor to salsa battle.

About CUESA

CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and its educational programs. Learn More »