I am one happy farmer as I sit here typing out this blog post! Why? Well, we received over 2 inches of rain on Saturday. And we are to predicted to receive similar amounts tomorrow! While the rain is too late to be of much help to some crops, it is much needed for all our fall transplants and those crops that are still actively growing. And I'm hoping this rain recharges our well and helps to fill the irrigation ponds that many other farmers rely on.
I'm also happy because this week's share has potatoes! And carrots! And lettuce! And tomatoes! These are the crops that I know many people have been anxiously awaiting. The carrots are on the small side because they are from our first planting of carrots, which was significantly stressed by the lack of water. I've decided to harvest at this size because they have been in the ground long enough that if we wait much longer their flavour will deteriorate. In the next week or two we should then have our second planting of carrots, which will be full size.
We grow 5 varieties of potatoes: an early white, an early red (both will be in the shares this week), a yellow fingerling, a storage red, and a storage yellow. The plants are looking healthy and the tubers taste great! The yield seems a bit lower than normal, but this is not surprising because potatoes need lots of water.
As for our tomatoes, they suddenly decided that they were ready to ripen and ripen they have! There will be cherry tomatoes, red slicers, paste tomatoes, and a purple heirloom to choose from this week. In the picture at the top of the page, the purple/green tomato on the left hand side is an heirloom variety called 'Black Krim'. It is hands down my favourite tomato. Beautiful, flavourful, and plentiful. Many share members gravitate towards the standard red slicers because they look like 'normal' tomatoes. But I strongly encourage everyone to at least try some of the funky looking heirloom varieties because their flavour is far superior. Sometimes heirlooms have weird features like unusual shapes or cracking around the top. This is just part of their beauty, in my eyes. Also, a couple varieties of tomatoes that we grow will have green shoulders, even when ripe. If you wait for the green to disappear, you will end up with a mushy tomato. A tomato should yield to gentle pressure and have a strong tomato smell when ripe.
For those that purchased a Potato or Carrot Add-on at the beginning of the season be sure to take your extra quantity this week. There will be signage indicating how much to take. Lettuce Add-on members will also be able to take an extra head this week.
The quintessential summer vegetable, tomatoes are delicious and nutritious! They are also one of the most finicky, labour intensive, and prone to disease crops that we grow. So when we have tomatoes we enjoy them as often as possible because they are never a guarantee!
Do not refrigerate your tomatoes - tomatoes are very sensitive to the cold and their flavours are significantly reduced by chilling. If we have more tomatoes than we can use before they spoil, I simply chop into chunks, throw in a freezer bag or container and freeze. These frozen tomatoes are perfect in soups, stews, and casseroles in the winter months. When ready to use, I just toss the whole frozen chunk into the simmering broth and it will soften, break apart, and add great tomato flavour. While you can peel them prior to freezing, I find it a completely unnecessary step.
One of our favourite ways to enjoy fresh tomatoes is on Open-Faced Avocado Toasts. These come together really quickly, don't require much (or any) cooking, and showcase the fresh tomato flavours. While there is no precise recipe, here is how I make mine.
1 slice toasted bread (thick sourdough is best but any will do)
1-2 slices roasted zucchini, eggplant, and/or portobello mushroom
1 slice tomato
2 - 3 basil leaves (optional)
Small handful of pea shoots
Salt and pepper to taste
Mash the avocado on the toast with the back of a fork. Top with remaining ingredients and eat! I always make this open-faced, with no top piece of bread because I'd rather taste the vegetables than the bread. But you can definitely make it like a traditional sandwich.