Saturday, September 10, 2016
" I have a love affair with tomatoes and corn. I remember them from my childhood. I only had them in the summer. They were extraordinary. "
When I was maybe eight or nine, I was given a large, chocolate Easter bunny. It was covered in brightly coloured, garish tinfoil. It was one of the most beautiful objects that I had ever laid eyes on, much less owned.
For a couple of weeks, that resplendent rabbit occupied a place of honour up on my bookshelf, beside the Hardy Boy books.
Then, one afternoon, I couldn't stand it any longer. It was time to partake of all that chocolatey deliciousness.
You know the rest of the story. The chocolate tasted like mud, which wouldn't have been so bad, except for the fact that the doggoned thing was hollow. It had all the soul of a gold digging Vegas showgirl.
I got over the crappy rabbit and yet every winter, I get duped in the very same way by tomatoes.
They look so delicious, so evocative of summers past and yet to come. But their taste is merely okay, a faint shadow of that of their country cousins who are still asleep in their seed packets.
The saying goes that "the older we get, the more we appreciate the things that money can't buy."
Amen to that. You sure as heck can't buy a decent tomato in Ontario for most of the year.
If we evaluated tomato years as we do wine years, then I would have to say that 2013 was a terrible vintage; degraded by cool weather. 2014 was marginally better, but it was a late, short season due to another growing season of cool, wet weather. Ditto for 2015.
Then along came 2016. Whatever the heat and drought of this past summer may have taken away in yield have been given back in taste. I don't ever remember better tasting tomatoes. This year the flavor is absolutely amazing, embodying that perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.
Tomatoes are loaded with Vitamins A and C, in addition to a host of other vitamins and minerals, but it is lycopene that is getting everyone excited about them these days.
A growing body of clinical evidence has shown that lycopene (which gives tomatoes their rich, red colour) is one of the most powerful antioxidants around. This, in turn, gives them great potential as a cancer fighter, due to antioxidants' ability to protect the body from harmful free radicals.
Tomatoes are one fruit that should not be refrigerated; their flavour will be ruined. Ditto to placing them in a sunny windowsill. The best bet is to place them on your kitchen counter out of direct sunlight. They will ripen just fine.
We grow a wide range of beefsteak tomato varieties, in addition to a couple of yellow cultivars that have lower acid content and a wonderfully mild flavor.
There is also a whole soccer team's worth of cherry and grape tomato varieties that add terrific flavor and eye-catching colour to any meal.
Our fields have been in legume cover crops for two years prior to planting tomatoes this year , which minimizes the disease and insect pressure on our crop and maximizes the nutritional benefits to you.
So get them while you can, freshly picked in our market or by picking your own in our fields. It is a golden opportunity for you to eat your fill of tomatoes with soul!