WHEN IS A TOMATO NOT A TOMATO?

TIP OF THE MONTH – SEPTEMBER 2012

By Cynthia Ruzzi, President  Cynthia@sustainabledanville.com

Do you eat those mealy, tasteless slices of tomato tucked into your sandwich or like me, open and remove immediately?  I can’t eat the anemic looking fruit that graces the side plate with bits of lettuce from the deli and I definitely will not buy artificially ripened supermarket tomatoes.

While the tomatoes in our supermarkets are seasonally grown in California, they are picked when considered “mature green”, just starting to turn color but still firm. Discovery News recently did a story reporting that the modern tomato has been cultivated to ripen evenly to uniform the harvest and it is this gene mutation that is to blame for tasteless tomatoes. I’m sure it doesn’t help that these green, firm tomatoes are packed into ethylene (a flammable gas derived from petroleum) storage for 3 days to change the starch of the tomato to sugar forcing it to turn red. While visually appealing, this process does nothing to enhance the taste.  The blandness is further cemented by shipping tomatoes in cold storage putting an immediate end to further ripening.

How do you get a tomato that tastes like a tomato?  One solution is to shop the local farmer’s market for organic produce.  Look for tomatoes grown sustainably since farmers that use these practices haven’t depleted the soil with chemical products.  These tomatoes are sure to be rich in magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc – trace minerals that help maintain our good health and give our fruits and vegetable their flavor.  When selecting tomatoes, sniff the blossom end, not the stem end, for a rich aroma.  Store fresh, ripe tomatoes stem-side down in a cool, dark place and use within a few days.  Please don’t put them in the refrigerator.

With so many varieties of tomatoes, you can grow your own tomatoes in any 5 gallon container with lots of sunshine.   However, with our wacky weather this summer, I am still tomato-less waiting for ‘real’ pasta sauce while my San Marzano beauties vine ripen.

Considering the journey out-of-season tomatoes from Arizona and Mexico take to get to our grocery stores and my uneasiness with BPA in most aluminum cans, I’m going to can my summer bounty for the winter season.  Now where to get the tomatoes….

Inspired by our summer days picking unwanted Danville and Alamo backyard fruit for the local food pantries, we longed for more time ‘on the farm’ before the seriousness of autumn.  So, we decided to take a road trip and we’re inviting you to join us “On The Road” as we tour Wild Boar Farms on Sunday, September 9th 11am – 2pm.

WILD BOAR FARMS: Sun, Wind, Dust & Dirt, GOOD FOOD & GREAT TOMATOES

BRING: Hat, Flat shoes, Camera, Re-usable bag for tomatoes and an Appetite

Wild Boar Farms is not just any farm – it’s a tomato breeding ground for 12,000 certified, organic tomato plants located in ‘tomato terroir’ Suisun Valley.   They are growing a rare, exotic gourmet collection of heirloom and future heirloom tomatoes.  Our special day will include an exclusive tomato tour and talk by Farmer Brad Gates, tomato and wine tasting, lunch provided by Fume Bistro & Bar, Napa and 1 lb. of tomatoes as a parting gift to you.  Come and enjoy an informative and fun day at the farm with your friends and family.  The event is accessible for all ages and benefits The Urban Farmers Fruit Gleaning Program (www.theurbanfarmers.org).  Please visit the Sustainable Danville Area Events page www.sustainabledanville.com for more details and a link to purchase tickets.  Adults $25 / Children $10

There will also be time to pick & purchase enough tomatoes to preserve for the winter season.  If preserving tomatoes is what you have in mind, but you don’t know where to start, join us on Saturday, September 8th 9am-noon at The Garden at Heather Farm for a class on canning & preserving your seasons’ bounty.  Patrice Hanlon, Garden Director, who has been canning her favorite vegetables for over 25 years, will introduce us to different methods of preserving, with a particular focus on water bath canning.  It’s a hands-on class with each participant making a jar of dill and a jar of sweet & sour pickles to take home. $35/$10 materials. Register at http://www.gardenshf.org/adult-classes.html or call (925) 947-1678.

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Central Conta Costa Solid Waste Authority and the Town of Danville are hosting a public workshop at the Danville Town Hall, September 19th 6:30 – 8:30pm to gather feedback on current and future services.

Did you know that as of July 1, 2012, California businesses are required to recycle, including multi-family homes? (AB 341)  Did you know that as a Danville or Alamo resident our separated yard clippings is used as daily alternative cover in the landfill and not composted?  Do you know that neighboring communities from Lafayette to San Ramon keep food scraps out of the landfill by putting them directly into their green waste bins, but we can’t?

Help us improve waste and recycling services for businesses and residents in Danville, Diablo, Blackhawk and Alamo. http://www.wastediversion.org/   If you cannot attend, please take a moment to answer the simple survey (nine questions) online by October 1, 2012. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CCCSWA_feedback

 Reprinted with permission from Danville Today News

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