Eating tomatoes warm from the field can be heavenly. Many people like things made from tomatoes (like pasta sauce, ketchup and pizza) but they dislike eating a plain tomato. There are probably many possible reasons, but I think the two biggest are texture and grocery store tomatoes. The gelatinous texture can be off putting at first, but soon the incredible flavor takes your mind other places. As for grocery store tomatoes, they are poor imitations. They are planted and picked with shipping and shelf life (not taste) in mind. Most of the varieties we grow wouldn't work for shipping because the skins damage easily.
We grow several varieties - including standard red tomatoes, green tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. For our standard-looking red tomatoes, we grow Jetstar, Cosmonaut Volkov and Bobcat. Green Zebras are an interesting variety that many people classify with the heirlooms but they are really a more recent hybrid. They are green with a hint of lemon color when ripe. For our heirlooms, we grow Pineapple (which displays a nice yellow with red streaked color when ripe), Pink Brandywine (a light pink color when ripe) and Cherokee Purple (which stays a deep reddish purple with some green when ripe). All the heirlooms are on the large side and tend to grow in irregular shapes with marks and some scars on them. These cosmetic problems and their poor shipping quality drove most of them out of the mainstream markets. Fortunately, they are making a comeback. Their flavor is far superior to any "standard" tomato. When sliced and presented on a serving platter, their colors make for a dazzling display. As for cherry tomatoes, we grow a standard red variety called Honey Bunch and an orange variety called Sungold. They are both good, but Sungolds are the sweetest tomato out there. After eating a Sungold most people only eat the red ones to add color to a dish!
Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature. Putting them in the refrigerator causes them to become mealy and lose flavor.
- Eat in salads or on sandwiches.
- Slice onto toast and broil for a few minutes until the tomato starts to become soft, then cover with fresh basil and cheese and broil again to melt the cheese. This makes the most incredible grilled cheese sandwich.
- Slice a variety of different colored tomatoes onto a serving platter with fresh basil and cheese and serve with crackers as an appetizer.
- Use in soups, stews and stir-fries.
- Chop tomatoes and cucumbers and toss with your favorite dressing for a quick summer side salad.