This summer’s heat promises an abundance of locally grown tomatoes, just now coming into their prime.
1/2 cup of chopped fresh tomatoes provides:
20 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C
15 percent of vitamin A
1 gram of protein
All for only 15 calories
“Tomatoes absolutely love hot, humid weather,” says Michael Smolak, owner/manager of Smolak Farms in North Andover. “You can see them grow overnight. I’m expecting a good year.” He’s tending to a dozen varieties, most of them superior-tasting but harder-to-grow heirlooms. Pick-your-own should be available starting Saturday. 978-682-6332; smolakfarms.com
Gardeners should give tomato plants at least six hours of direct sunlight a day, according to UMass Amherst’s Center for Agriculture, and at least 1 inch of water a week; a good weekly soaking is better than more frequent trickles. For other tips, visit ag.umass.edu.
Vine-ripened fruits really do taste best. But according to the Center for Agriculture, you can approach the flavor if you pick them after they turn pink, then bring them indoors to mature.
To prevent mushiness, the USDA recommends storing the red orbs in a single layer in a cool, dry place.
At Needham restaurant Sweet Basil you’ll find this treat: “quick pickled” tomatoes paired with goat-cheese-and-sweet-corn-filled agnolotti. Chef-owner Dave Becker, expecting the fruits to be plentiful and low cost in August, will look to use them in as many dishes as possible and the 75 gallons of sauce his staff produces a week. 781-444-9600; sweetbasilneedham.com
Spoiled tomatoes as weapons? On August 17 at the Brockton Fairgrounds, the Tomato Bash invites you to plunk down $49, don goggles, and participate in a fun food fight. It’s inspired by the tomato-tossing festival in Bunol, Spain. Bring your friends, and perhaps your enemies. thetomatobash.com
“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”
45 ml vodka
90 ml tomato juice
15 ml lemon juice
2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Stir gently and serve.
Source: International Bartenders Association