Stay Local – by Jehan Al Rifaie

Tomatoes can vary in size, color and type. It is important to know the different types of local tomatoes, whether you are gardening or just using them in a recipe. The best tomatoes to grow in NC include better boy, celebrity, roma, super sweet 100, and cherokee purple. Moreover, tomatoes are classified whether they are determinate or indeterminate and if they are heirloom or hybrid. There are many local farms that you can choose your tomatoes from such as: Ben’s Produce, Copeland Springs Farm, Rebel Ridge Farm, In Good Heart Farm, God’s Green Earth and many more.

Determinate tomatoes also called “bush” tomatoes bloom and set fruit all at once and then decline. They stop growing once they reach their full size, which is usually three to four feet tall. This results in plants setting all their fruit at once. They may also require a limited amount of caging and or staking for support.

Indeterminate tomatoes continue to grow all season, setting continuous crops of fruit all summer and into the fall. Since they keep growing, they tend to get large, often six feet or more causing them to need heavy-duty cages for support. Most cherry, early girl, better boy and heirlooms tomatoes are indeterminate.

Heirlooms varieties have been increasingly popular due to their valued characteristics. They are so much sweeter, juicier and more flavorful than any other type of tomatoes. They usually have been passed down through several generations of a family because of their valued characteristics. Many heirloom tomatoes lack a genetic mutation that gives tomatoes an appealing uniform red color while sacrificing the fruit’s sweet taste.

Hybrid tomatoes can provide fruit of different shapes, sizes and colors. Their plants combine two different types of tomato plant to produce a refined variety with valuable traits from both its parents. Disease resistance has been one of the main goals for developing modern tomato hybrids.

There are many recipes out there that include fresh tomatoes. One of these recipes is balsamic bruschetta:

Balsamic Bruschetta – Recipe from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

8 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 loaf French bread, toasted and slice

Preparation

In a bowl, toss together the tomatoes, basil, Parmesan cheese, and

garlic. Mix in the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. Serve on toasted bread slices.

Yield: 8 servings.

Total time: 15 Minutes

Calories: 194 Cals

How to make the southern tomato sandwich healthier

As we all know, tomato sandwiches are pretty simple to make, but they are not exactly healthy, considering all the mayo that is put in it. Here are ways you can improve the nutritional content of the southern tomato sandwich:

1. Use whole wheat bread instead of white wheat bread.

2. Use light mayonnaise since it is half the calories and fat of the regular mayonnaise

3. You can also use low fat mayonnaise dressing since it only contains only 15 calories and 1 gram of fat per serving.

Locally grown and organic foods like farm fresh tomatoes offer a significant variety of benefits. Studies have shown that local and organic foods offer more nutrients, including antioxidants, than traditionally grown foods. Studies also show that people who have allergies to foods or preservatives often find their symptoms lessen or go away all together when they eat only locally sourced and organic foods! There are many tomato recipes to choose from as well. Who wouldn’t enjoy juicy, plump tomatoes that would help cool them down during this hot weather!

Sources:

http://www.agrilicious.org/local/tomatoes/north-carolina/raleigh

https://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2013/04/what-are-the-best-tomato-varieties/

Selecting Plants

http://www.gardenguides.com/98177-tomatoes-grow-north-carolina.html

http://www.hellmanns.com/product/detail/97902/low-fat-mayonnaise-dressing

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