Foods today are grown and processed differently than when our parents and grandparents prepared food. Many will argue that foods served today don’t taste as good as Grandma’s cooking. As I reported earlier, many heritage grains and vegetables have lost their taste and now replaced by vague replicas that have been cloned and altered by modern farming techniques.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the production of tomatoes. When was the last time you had a tomato that actually tasted like a tomato?
Like most people I have been seduced by the marketing ploy by Whole Foods (and others) that “vine ripened tomatoes are fresher and taste better.”
While the logic seems inescapable, I learned that tomatoes are 94% water. While the green vines are pretty, doesn’t it make sense to consider the origin of the water as the primary “taste” determinant of a tomato? Imagine all those carefully crafted tomatoes in hothouses receiving hydroponic drips concocted in scientific labs managed by agronomists.
Sure, this process may increase crop yields and produce beautifully colored artificial tomatoes, but they certainly won’t have the taste of the ones my grandmother used in her cooking.
While grocery stores now offer many varieties of tomatoes, I have discovered that most lack taste. Even tomatoes that are labeled “organic” often fail to meet my taste expectations.
After suffering for years to recapture the true flavor profile of a “real” tomato, I was reacquainted with that sublime flavor while shopping at our local Greenwich Farmer’s Market.
Jennifer, who runs a small 3 acre farm in Newtown, CT is my go-to resource for organically grown tomatoes. To obtain their organic certification, Jennifer had to compile a list of everything that touched her soil for three years. Her farm is then inspected yearly.
Needless to say, no artificial ingredients such as pesticides and herbicides were used to contaminate the soil and her tomato plants are grown from seeds and seedlings “stored in and around” her house. Next year, she plans to move them to a small barn on her property.
In effect, the taste of her tomatoes are largely determined by nature: the unique chemical combinations of her soil, rain water and well water. You can taste the difference in tomatoes that are grown and harvested naturally using the best ingredients provided by Mother Nature.
When I arrive at the market, I ask Jennifer to select tomatoes that will ripen at various stages during the week. Of course, every home cook realizes that you should never refrigerate tomatoes (unless the skin is broken).
I can’t tell you how wonderful these tomatoes taste with Gourmet Living’s extra virgin olive oil from Tuscany. If you are looking for inspiration, try this wonderful recipe by Dan Kluger for Heirloom Tomatoes with a Herbs Almond Vinaigrette that was featured a little over a week ago on our Blog.
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