Totally Tomatoes

Totally Tomatoes

Tomatoes are something we love and grow a lot of every year! Farm fans, customers and CSA members can expect tomatoes for 10-12 weeks each season. Their season runs July through Early October (depending on the date of that first frost) with a peak season of in August and September. If you want to can or preserve plan for this late summer bounty! 

For CSA, expect regular delivery of cherry tomatoes with the addition of red slicers (aka Beefsteaks) many weeks and appearances of romas and heirlooms more occasionally.

What we grow 

Here’s a snapshot of all the tomatoes we grow.

Cherry Tomatoes: We grow mixed types of cherry tomatoes so you can expect to see full red pints, full yellow pints, and/or a mixed color rainbow. The rainbow pints include cherry tomatoes of various sizes. These are great for fresh eating and snacking.

Roma Tomatoes: Also known as paste tomatoes, these are meatier types of tomatoes that are perfect for sauce (and even sandwiches)! They are a little less juicy than your regular tomato which makes them great for grilling and roasting too!

Red Slicers: These are the classic, beefsteak tomatoes most people are familiar with. They are great all around, all purpose tomatoes. We focus on trailing and growing the most tasty varieties we can find. 

Heirloom/Hyloom: We grow a range of beautiful pink, dark red, orange, purple, and yellow tomatoes. You can use them like any other tomato, but we think they’re best for salads where the color can be highlighted. These varieties sometimes have green shoulders where the top of the tomato is less ripe than the rest. Check the bottom half of your tomato for ripeness so you don’t wait too long and end up with tomato soup! 

Storage tips 

We deliver tomatoes ripe (but not over ripe)and they will last on your counter for 4-5 days. You should inspect tomatoes frequently for ripeness and cracks, and use as needed/desired. Damaged tomatoes will deteriorate much faster than perfect tomatoes. If you see a crack or they feel very soft, chop and put in the fridge for use during the week or freeze for later use. 

Tomatoes will store on the counter well, but much to many farmers’ dismay, I will tell you the fridge is also fine (and actually a better option if you have fruit flies). Storing cut tomatoes in the fridge is a must. They will store a few days longer this way.

Peak tomato season recipes

When tomatoes first begin the eating is EASY, but as we get into peak season, you may feel more overwhelmed at time. If you’ve run through all your favorites and aren’t quite sure what to do with all the bounty. Allow us to help. Below are a few of our favorite peak tomato season recipes followed but preservation resources!

Simple Summer Salad 

Yield: 2-4 servings
Time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS: 

1 pound cucumbers, diced, leave peel on or peel based on personal preference

1 medium ripe tomato or 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced or diced

2 green or red peppers, diced

1/3 cup minced onion (a mix of red and white sweet works great), optional

1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

PREPARATION:

  1. Prepare all the vegetables and herbs.
  2. Whisk together dressing ingredients, toss with vegetables and then add salt to taste. 
  3. We enjoy this salad cold or at room temperature. It is great the next day or used in wraps for leftovers.

Photo by: The Leek & The Carrot

Mason Jar Caprese 

Recipe by The Leek & The Carrot

The twist on a classic caprese calls for chives instead of basil, but use whatever you have abundantly and on-hand.

Yield: 1-2 servings
Time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS: 

1-2 pounds mix of heirloom and slicer tomatoes (if they’re out of season, don’t even bother), cored and cut into thick slices

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

4 ounces fresh mozzarella ball, halved and cut into thick slices

1 bunch chives, sliced (about 1/4 cup)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION:

  1. Grab a quart mason jar (or a 4-cup pyrex or other container). Place 1-2 sliced tomatoes in bottom. Layer a handful of cherry tomatoes on top followed by a few slices of mozzarella. Sprinkle with a quarter of the chives (or basil). Repeat until you’ve used all ingredients or filled your container (whichever comes first).
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. Cover and shake gently so that olive oil and balsamic coat tomatoes throughout.
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper just before serving. 
Photo by: NYTimes Cooking

Panzanella with Mozzarella & Herbs

Recipe by NYTimes Cooking

Yield: 6 servings
Time: 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS: 

4 ounces ciabatta or baguette, preferably stale, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste

¾ teaspoon kosher sea salt, more to taste

2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, preferably a mix of varieties and colors

6 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn or cut into bite-size pieces

½ cup thinly sliced red onion, about half a small onion

2 garlic cloves, grated to a paste

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, more to taste

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or thyme (or a combination)

 Large pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

 Black pepper, to taste

½ cup thinly sliced Persian or Kirby cucumber, about 1 small cucumber

½ cup torn basil leaves

¼ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon capers, drained

PREPARATION:

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons oil and a pinch of salt. Bake until they are dried out and pale golden brown at the edges, about 7 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
  2. Cut tomatoes into bite-size pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Add mozzarella, onions, garlic paste, 1 tablespoon vinegar, oregano or thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the red pepper flakes if using. Toss to coat and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar, the mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt and some black pepper to taste. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil until the mixture is thickened. Stir in cucumbers, basil and parsley.
  4. Add bread cubes, cucumber mixture and capers to the tomatoes and toss well. Let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours before serving. Toss with a little more olive oil, vinegar and salt if needed just before serving.
Photo by: Eating Well

Marinated Cherry Tomato Salad 

Recipe by Eating Well

Yields: 4 servings
Time: 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

1 teaspoon honey

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground pepper

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

PREPARATION: 

  1. Whisk vinegar, shallot, honey, salt, pepper and mustard in a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in oil until fully incorporated. Fold in tomatoes, basil and mint. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Serve at room temperature.

Photo by: NYTimes Cooking

Heirloom Tomato and Green Bean Salad 

Recipe by NYTimes Cooking

Yields: 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound string beans or small haricots verts

6 ripe tomatoes

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots or green onions

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 tablespoons coarsely chopped basil

PREPARATION:

  1. Trim ends of beans and leave them whole.
  2. Drop beans into a saucepan with salted boiling water. Cook until crisp tender, about 3 to 5 minutes according to the size of the beans. Do not overcook. Drain and let cool.
  3. Cut away the core of each tomato, and cut it into wedges.
  4. In a salad bowl, add mustard, vinegar, shallots, garlic, oil, salt and pepper and blend with a wire whisk. Add beans and tomatoes, toss well. Sprinkle with basil.

A couple of the recipes we shared above are from the NY Times Cooking section. They have an amazing number of sheet pan dinner recipes and though their recipes are only accessible through a paid subscription, at $40 a year, we find this to be an incredibly worthwhile resource for CSA members and folks who like to cook a lot.

Longer-term preservation 

Tomatoes are amazing to eat fresh (and in my opinion you should never skip any opportunity to eat a fresh tomato in summer), but they are also one of the best, most versatile items for long-term preservation. 

Whether you’re getting a ton through the CSA, have your own garden, or want to stock up through our online store for winter, the possibilities for preserving tomatoes are literally endless. Here’s a few of our favorite methods.

Roasted tomatoes 

Roasted tomatoes are a great way to use up tomatoes when they start to get overwhelming. This is a great short-term or long-term solution. Roasted tomatoes are perfect on bread, can be used as a sauce for pasta or rice, and can easily be served with chicken or fish. 

INGREDIENTS: 

2-3 pounds tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil (or 1/2 teaspoon dry basil)

2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese, optional (skip if preserving)

Salt and pepper to taste

PREPARE: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Wash tomatoes and cut in half (if they’re large tomatoes, cut into quarters), removing stems as you go.
  3. Toss tomatoes with remaining ingredients.
  4. Place in a rimmed baking pan or dish. Roast 10-20 minutes, or to desired doneness.

PRESERVE:

Cool and store in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 6 months. 

Slow-roasted tomatoes

Instructions from Bounty From the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook

Slow-roasting tomatoes is an excellent way to intensify and concentrate the delicious flavor. It releases their natural sugars and almost caramelizes them. 

PREPARE:

To slow-roast, preheat the oven to 225°F; slice the tomatoes crosswise, push out the seeds and juices, and place them on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle them with olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar, cayenne pepper, and fresh herbs, and bake for 2 to 4 hours. These roasted beauties will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator, or 6 months in the freezer.

Whole frozen tomatoes 

A lot of people swear by blanching, peeling, and freezing their tomatoes. Don’t let us stop you from doing that. It’s a great method. But also, let us let you in on a little secret. If you’re short on time, you can absolutely just rinse them, throw tomatoes in a bag and freeze them whole. The skins come off when you defrost them if you want to remove them (you can just eat them too).

The main thing you gain with blanching is that the tomatoes cook a bit, making them more squishable and taking up far less room. It also guarantees you won’t have to do any peeling (or other prep) of the thawed tomatoes when you’re ready to use them. If you have a chest freezer with plenty of space, don’t care about skins/seeds, and need to preserve in a hurry, this is a great method.

It’s also our go to method for freezing cherry tomatoes. Just remove the stems, rinse, and pop them into freezer bags and you’re good to go. My kids eat these just like frozen blueberries in winter and they bring a feeling of summer sunshine in any cooked winter dish. 

Photo by: The Kitchn

Canned whole tomatoes

Recipe and instructions from Put ‘Em Up: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling

INGREDIENTS

For each quart of tomatoes:

3 pounds roma/plum tomatoes

2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon citric acid

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

PREPARE:

  1. Fill a clean cooler halfway with heavily iced water and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water, no more than 6 tomatoes at a time, and return to a boil. Blanch until the skins begin to loosen, 30 to 60 seconds.
  2. Scoop the tomatoes out of the water with a spider or slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice water. Continue blanching the tomatoes in batches. Remove from the ice bath and drain. Core the tomatoes, and then peel away the skins with a small paring knife.
  3. Put the lemon juice or citric acid and the salt, if using, into clean, hot quart jars. Pack the tomatoes into the jars one at a time, pressing firmly enough to compress the hollow core and release enough juice to cover the tomato but not so hard that the fruit is crushed. Continue packing tomatoes in this manner, being careful to press out any air pockets. Tomatoes should be covered by 1/2 inch headspace with their liquid. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace between the top of the liquid and the lid. Top with a little boiling water, if necessary, to achieve the proper headspace.

CAN: 

Use the boiling-water method. Release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands. Process for 85 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

Photo by: Well Seasoned Studio

Other preservation ideas:

  • Cherry tomato confit: a great option for making a confit (aka a fancy dip) out of our cherry tomatoes, garlic and shallots! 
  • Slow cooker tomato sauce: a great way to process a lot of tomatoes fast without taking up too much room in your freezer. We swear by this method and freeze the sauce in wide-mouth pint jars (they’re freezer safe) or ziploc freezer bags. If you prefer a smoother sauce without seeds, use a food mill to puree instead of a food processor blender (as mentioned in step 4). Keep cooking it down further if you want to make a pizza sauce. Also, you don’t necessarily need the tomato paste. It just speeds up the process and helps the tomatoes cook down faster. 
  • Charred tomato & chile salsa: this recipe comes from Canning for a New Generation, a really great resource if you’re looking to get into more canning.
  • And, in case it is helpful, here are some great, general resources for canning tomatoes.

Need tomatoes for preservation? Be sure to check out online farmers’ market during tomato season to stock up!

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