Legend has it that people used to throw rotten tomatoes at actors who gave poor performances.
The town of Bunol, Spain, hosts a festival every August where thousands of people throw over one hundred metric tons of tomatoes at each other.
The most important element here is the squish of the tomato. If people were hurling tomato-sized rocks at each other, some serious damage would occur.
Author Barry Estabrook tells how he saw a tractor trailer driving down the highway, loaded with what he thought was Granny Smith apples. While the truck was driving, several of the fruits fell to the road and bounced away, unharmed. Upon further inspection, he saw that they were green tomatoes.
These are the tomatoes that many of us buy in grocery stores and eat in restaurants. These tomatoes aren’t bred for flavor; they are bred for toughness to withstand being transported all across our nation. Personally, I would rather eat something grown for its outstanding flavor.
You can read more of Estabrook’s story here, and you can check out his book, ‘Tomatoland’ here. I haven’t read it, but it’s on my list of books to read.
Produce that has been grown close to you is likely much more flavorful than its supermarket counterpart, because it’s picked at peak ripeness, and has often been bred for its flavor, not for the ability to travel.
When we are in our garden, we often smell a ripe cantaloupe before we see it. Go stand right in the center of the produce section of a grocery store, and take a deep whiff. Usually there’s no scent at all.
Right now is a great time to stock up on local product–there should be lots to choose from, and prices are at their lowest.
I preserve mainly in three ways: freezing, dehydrating, and canning. We’ll start with freezing today, because it’s simple. I’ll cover the other two methods in future posts.
Most root vegetables don’t freeze well, but often can be kept in a refrigerator or even a dark cool room for weeks or months. Green vegetables often need to be blanched (dunked into boiling water for a couple of minutes, then plunged in to ice water) before being frozen.
Tomatoes, corn, and peppers generally don’t need to be blanched; you can just slice (or cut off the cob) and freeze. Fruit is the same way–just wash, slice and freeze.
Fruit should be placed on parchment or a baking sheet, in a single layer, not touching the other pieces, until frozen solid. Then transfer to a plastic freezer bag or other container, otherwise the entire mass will freeze in one solid chunk. I used my dehydrator trays to freeze peaches on.
Buy the squishy tomatoes and other fruits now, while they have the most flavor, and the prices are lowest. Take a few minutes to freeze them–when January rolls around, you’ll be so glad you did.