Tomato Time

This is what I wait for all year: sweet, ripe, explosively delicious homegrown tomatoes! There’s nothing that compares. This season I planted three varieties: Italian Heirloom, Campar, and Burpee Beefsteak. My friend Rob Bryn’s mother, Roberta gave me the beefsteak. They’re doing the best. The plants are three feet tall and the huge tomatoes are just turning color now. She ordered them from QVC because the company name is Roberta’s. The good karma is working.

Burpee Beefsteak

I always plant at least one heirloom.They are the “pure-breeds” of their kind. Also known as heritage tomatoes, these fruits are more delicate to grow but the reward is worth the work. They are sweeter and richer in flavor than hybrids. The variety needs to be “bred” by one pollinator for 50 years! I’m not a hybrid hater though, they too are tasty but are way easier to grow than the high-class tomato varieties. The cross-pollination makes hybrids more resistant to diseases.

Campars, one precious Italian Heirloom and my cat Fivey who just celebrated his 6th birthday!!

Campars, one precious Italian Heirloom and my cat Fivey who just celebrated his 6th birthday!! .JPG

This has been my best growing season for tomatoes since living here in Rockaway, but I did have some blossom-end rot. Nothing too significant. Blossom-end rot happens when you have inconsistent watering – too much water at once as we did last month. Or it can happen from a calcium imbalance.  My latest batch of tomatoes show no signs of rot and look as though they will qualify for the ultimate designation “glorified tomatoes”.

I use tomatoes in everything. Therefore, it would be difficult for me to pick one recipe to share with you. I will say homegrown tomatoes are best seasoned simply. Enjoy the fruit for what it is. I like to make an effortless tomato salad with shaved red onions, sea salt, fresh pepper and a high quality olive oil (my go-to is Colavita).

Tomatoes should sit on your counter at room temperature. I was shocked to realize so many people still put tomatoes in the refrigerator. I know this because I look into my friend’s fridges, to see what they eat. My friend Katie Honan does this too. In fact, it’s an Italian thing. Most of us will look in your refrigerator and then comment, “Oh you got the Romano on sale!” or “Can I try some of that pasta salad?”, or “Looks like you need to go food shopping.” Things along those lines.

Already, I have a little tomato anxiety. They’re so good now and our growing season is so short. I don’t want to go back to store-bought tomatoes which are plucked while green and ripened on a truck somewhere on I-95 North. They end up in the supermarket, never reaching their full potential. This pains me (sad emoji face here).

But let’s not go down the rabbit whole of tomato doom. Let’s live in the present and enjoy the abundance of homegrown tomatoes here and now.