Savor Our Seasons: Tomatoes

By Liza Drew, Keene State College Dietetic Intern

Flavorful Fact: Tomatoes are part of the nightshade family, like potatoes and eggplants. Because of this, they were thought to be poisonous by Europeans until the 1600s. It wasn’t until around 1820 when American colonists realized tomatoes were safe to eat, though they had already been growing them ornamentally in their gardens for many years.

Though early tomatoes become available in July, my garden never seems to reach peak tomato picking until September. Often, I find barely blushing green tomatoes still holding onto the vines well into October. I try to eat as many tomatoes as I possibly can during this time in an attempt to make it through the long winter without feeling the need to purchase a flavorless red baseball unfairly labeled as a tomato.

One way to prolong the joy of local tomatoes is to make them into sauce or salsa, which can then be jarred or frozen. This requires peeling and seeding, which can be accomplished by plunging cored tomatoes in boiling water for about ten seconds, cooling in an ice bath and then peeling off the skin with a paring knife. The peeled tomatoes can then be cut in half and gently squeezed to remove the seeds and juice. You’ll be left with the tomato flesh that’s perfect to make into sauce.

However, during tomato season when I want a quick dinner to put on the table, I skip all this and make a rustic tomato “sauce” with lots of fresh garlic and basil. This recipe is a perfect way to use up cherry tomatoes, which aren’t good for peeling and seeding, but can be made with any variety of tomato.

Try this Recipe: Angel Hair with Fresh Tomatoes