Saturday, February 19, 2011

You Say Tomato, I Say Delicious

“The soil is, as a matter of fact, full of live organisms. It is essential to conceive of it as something pulsating with life, not as a dead or inert mass. There could be no greater misconception than to regard the earth as dead: a handful of soil is teeming with life.” (“The Soil and Health- A Study of Organic Agriculture by Sir Albert Howard; pg. 22)

Here are more of the tomatoes to look forward to this coming season at Z Food Farm. And, there are plenty more to tell about. And speaking of more varieties that will be grown at Z Food Farm, there are approximately 7,500 varieties of tomatoes. Also, for your information, the tomato is native to South America. Some evidence indicates that tomatoes were used by the Aztecs by 500 BC. Some historians believe that Cortez (yes, THAT Cortez) may have been the first to bring the tomato to Europe. Others believe it may have been Columbus. (Wikipedia)

Is your mouth watering yet? Getting there. Happy and healthy eating to all.

Eva Purple Ball- Good taste. Good in salads and salsas and on sandwiches. A gorgeous tomato.

Rose- Very rich flavor. Good acid and sweetness. Really delicious.

Japanese Black Trifele- Very tasty flesh with a meaty core. Extraordinary rich and complex flavors. Great for fresh eating.

Paul Robeson- Very flavorful with luscious, earthy, exotic flavors and good acid/sweet balance. Best used for fresh eating.

Green Grape- Sweet and fruity. Best used for fresh eating or in a salad.

Tomatoberry (non-heirloom)- Excellent, sweet flavor. Looks like a strawberry. Great in a salad or fresh eating.

San Marzano- Takes garlic like a dream. Great for tomato sauce.

Black Cherry- Excellent taste. Fruity and well balanced. Best for fresh eating.

Sungold (non-heirloom)- Very sweet. Tastes very fruity and delicious. Best for fresh eating as a snack.

Green Zebra- On the acidic side. Scrumptious sweet rich flavor with a bit of a bite at the back end. Good for slicing and salads.

Jaune Flamee- Excellent. Perfect blend of sweet and tart. Fruity. Can be eaten out of hand, sliced for a sandwich, grilled with eggs. Can be roasted in a slow oven with salt and thyme.

Golden Sunray- Richly flavored. Made for juicing. Easy to peel.

Kellogg’s Breakfast- Rich scrumptious. A blockbuster. Delicious rich flavor. Fresh eating by itself or in a salad.

Support organic farmers. Support local and sustainable agriculture. Support farmers who respect the land.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fruit Or Vegetable?

"The pursuit of quantity at all costs is dangerous in farming. Quantity should be aimed at only in strict conformity with natural law, especially must the law of the return of all wastes to the land be faithfully observed. In other words, a firm line needs to be drawn between a legitimate use of natural abundance and exploitation." (From "The Soil and Health-A study of Organic Agriculture, Sir Albert Howard; pg. 66)

Tomato- Fruit Or A Vegetable?

If it has seeds, it is a fruit.

Thus tomatoes are, botanically speaking, fruit. As are, for that matter, cucumbers and squash, among others. Here is the first installment of the list of tomatoes that will be grown at Z Food Farm this coming season. The early tomatoes should be available at the beginning of August; as always this is predicated upon favorable weather. Let the countdown begin.

Black Krim- Excellent tasted. Described as very intense, smoky, salty. Like downing a good single malt scotch. Best for fresh eating.

Black Plum- Uniques sweet tangy flavor. Low acid. Some prefer this variety for sauce because of the nice rich color.

Black Prince- Full of juice and incredible rich fruity flavor. Perfect for eating fresh.

Black Zebra- Exceptionally rich, complex, really delightful tomato flavors that contain hints of smoke and sweetness.

Cherokee Chocolate- Deep, rich, smoky, sweet. Best for fresh eating.

Cherokee Purple- Deep, rich, smoky, sweet. Best for fresh eating.

Beam’s Yellow Pear- Great taste. Ideal for salads.

Black Cherry non-heirloom- Excellent taste. Fruity and well balanced. Best for fresh eating.

Aunt Ruby’s German Green- Excellent taste. A perfect balance of acid and sugar. Fruity, grapey, and spicy.

Aunt Gertie’s Gold- Excellent taste. Sumptuous, rich flavor. Best for fresh eating.

Amish Paste- excellent taste; rich and sweet; firm, meaty, and juicy. Is listed on Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste. Makes a delicious tomato sauce.

Cosmonaut Volkov- Full, rich flavor. Perfect blend of sweet and tart. A rich complexity.

Big Beef (non-heirloom)- Flavor is full and hearty with lots of sweet juice balanced with that wonderful tomato acidity. Large and juicy.

The following are the seed companies where the tomato seeds were purchased.

Fedco, Tomatofest, Seed Savers Exchange, Johnny's, Uprising, High Mowing, Gourment seed, Rutgers.

Until August may visions of juicy tomatoes get you through the next few months. Support organic farmers. Support local and sustainable farming. Happy and healthy eating to all.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Heirloom Tomatoes- An Intro

This season David will be growing upwards of 60 varieties of tomatoes!! At least fifty of these are identified as being an heirloom tomato. What, you might wonder, makes a tomato, or any vegetable (and certain animals) an heirloom. This question has been answered in an earlier post, but for purposes of thoroughness and review, here is an explanation. (This information comes from the Tomatofest website, where David ordered some of his tomatoes.

Coming soon- a list of the tomatoes that will be grown at Z Food Farm during the 2011 farm season. Spring is right around the corner. Happy and healthy eating to one and all.

“What Is An Heirloom Tomato?


An heirloom is generally considered to be a variety that has been passed down, through several generations of a family because of it's valued characteristics. Since 'heirloom' varieties have become popular in the past few years there have been liberties taken with the use of this term for commercial purposes. At TomatoFest Garden Seeds we chose to adopt the definition used by tomato experts, Craig LeHoullier and Carolyn Male, who have classified down heirlooms into four categories:

1. Commercial Heirlooms: Open-pollinated varieties introduced before 1940, or tomato varieties more than 50 years in circulation.

2. Family Heirlooms: Seeds that have been passed down for several generations through a family.

3. Created Heirlooms: Crossing two known parents (either two heirlooms or an heirloom and a hybrid) and dehybridizing the resulting seeds for how ever many years/generations it takes to eliminate the undesirable characteristics and stabilize the desired characteristics, perhaps as many as 8 years or more.

4. Mystery Heirlooms: Varieties that are a product of natural cross-pollination of other heirloom varieties.

(Note: All heirloom varieties are open-pollinated but not all open-pollinated varieties are heirloom varieties.)

Where did the term "Heirloom" plants begin?

The term "Heirloom" applied to plants was apparently first used by Kent Whealy of Seed Savers Exchange, who first used "heirloom" in relation to plants in a speech he gave in Tucson in 1981. He had asked permission to use the term "heirloom" from John Withee, who had used the term on the cover of his bean catalog. John said sure, that he had taken it from Prof. William Hepler at the University of New Hampshire, who first used the term "heirloom" to describe some beans that friends had given him back in the 1940s.

The Importance of "Heirloom" Tomatoes.

In the past 40 years, we've lost many of our heirloom varieties, along with the many smaller family farms that supported heirlooms. The multitude of heirlooms that had adapted to survive well for hundreds of years were lost or replaced by fewer hybrid tomatoes, bred for their commercially attractive characteristics.

In the process we have also lost much of the ownership of foods typically grown by family gardeners and small farms, and we are loosing the genetic diversity at an accelerating and alarming rate.

Every heirloom variety is genetically unique and inherent in this uniqueness is an evolved resistance to pests and diseases and an adaptation to specific growing conditions and climates. With the reduction in genetic diversity, food production is drastically at risk from plant epidemics and infestation by pests. Call this genetic erosion.

The late Jack Harlan, world-renowned plant collector who wrote the classic Crops and Man while Professor of Plant Genetics at University of Illinois at Urbana, wrote, "These resources stand between us and catastrophic starvation on a scale we cannot imagine. In a very real sense, the future of the human race rides on these materials. The line between abundance and disaster is becoming thinner and thinner, and the public is unaware and unconcerned. Must we wait for disaster to be real before we are heard? Will people listen only after it is too late."

It is up to us as gardeners and responsible stewards of the earth to assure that we sustain the diversity afforded us through heirloom varieties.”