Tomatoes get their day in the sun

Aug 12, 2010
It's little later than normal due to an unusually cool spring, but California tomato season is now in high gear. Farmers markets, roadside stands and many back yards are teeming with a wide variety of vine-ripened tomatoes, according to an article in yesterday's Sacramento Bee.

UC Davis Cooperative Extension post-harvest specialist Marita Cantwell told Bee reporter Niesha Lofing that consumer demand for high-flavor tomatoes has prompted greater availability of a diversity of tomato varieties in hues from golden yellow to deep burgundy.

"Sales are greater if you have more variety," Cantwell was quoted in the story. "The beefs, the rounds, the grape tomatoes – that diversity has stimulated consumption, and that stimulates interest to produce (more varieties)."

Lofing also spoke to Pam Geisel, the UCCE Master Gardener statewide coordinator, who offered a few suggestions for using this summer's tomato bounty:
  • Blending different varieties of tomatoes makes a more interesting tomato sauce.
  • Sauce need not be cooked for hours. Geisel makes a tomato sauce with fresh basil, fresh garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in just five minutes.
  • No need to blanch and peel tomatoes before cooking. Instead, after cooking, a food mill can quickly separate the peel and seeds from the tomato meat.
In a sidebar, the Sacramento Bee also provided the details on nine tomato varieties, sourced by Geisel, Cantwell and other experts.

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By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist