BY DEBRA J. MORRIS
Tomatoes are the poster child of vegetables for locally-grown and seasonal eating. Finding tomatoes that taste like tomatoes are one of the biggest draws to local farmers’ markets in the summer. They are also one of the home gardener’s most common vegetables to plant. Who doesn’t love a good tomato?
Different varieties have different flavor and texture strengths. Soft and juicy heirloom varieties may be best for simply slicing and serving with a sprinkle of salt; drier hybrid Romas or Early Girls are the better choices for making sauces. Delightful little cherry or pear tomatoes are perfect for salads. Check with your grower at the farmers’ market for help in selecting tomatoes that are best for what you’re using them for.
Your Martinez Farmers Market has you covered when talking tomatoes. Check out J&M Farms out of Gilroy for heirloom and cherry varieties. Stop in at ALD & Y Farm for organic tomatillos, Romas (great for sauces!), and cherry tomatoes. VV Farms out of Santa Cruz also has heirloom and big juicy beefsteak tomatoes. And don’t forget Halog Farms out of Merced for Romano, yellow cherries, Shady Ladys, and other varieties of tomatoes.
Jacob’s Farm offers German Stripe, Cherokee Purple, Yellow Brandywine, and other tomatoes to fill your bag. Dwelley Farms from Oakley has a wide array of cherry tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes, salad tomatoes, and more. Try their Shady Lady tomato.
As always, you’ll find the best at your local farmers’ market where the growers bring fresh picked tomatoes straight to you in varieties you won’t find anywhere else! Enjoy summer tomatoes in all their flavorful glory!
TIP: Never store tomatoes in the refrigerator! Temperatures under 50°F lead to mushy inedible tomatoes. Refrigeration also dulls the delicious ripe flavors of a good tomato.
Fresh Pico de Gallo Salsa
2 medium tomatoes (colorful heirlooms make a nice color statement!)
1 jalapeño pepper, trimmed, seeded, finely diced
1 red or yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 green onion, sliced, both white and green parts
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon chili or chipotle powder, more or less to taste.
Salt and pepper, to taste
Mix all ingredients together and serve with tortilla chips. Makes a great topping for bruschetta or burgers. Recipe: Cookin’ the Market, PCFMA.