So, here’s the story. In 2017, we asked Farmer Lee Jones to reveal his favorite variety of farm-fresh tomatoes. His answer was that it was an easy question . . . but he then got an important phone call—and then another one—and so we never did get his answer.
We promised to follow up with him in 2018—and we did for this post about Farmer Lee’s favorite summer crops. Once again, he said the question was easy and, this time, we got a more complete answer: “It was definitely a cherry tomato!” he declared with certainty. “Or err, maybe an heirloom tomato . . . or a toy box tomato. Or maybe a currant tomato.”
After that somewhat scattered response, we promised to follow up yet again in 2019—but then we found him wandering the fields, fresh soil beneath his fingertips, mumbling something like this: “Green Bee Tomatoes, Sun Gold Tomatoes, Pineapple Tomatillo, Sweet Pea Currant, Mixed Toy Box . . .” We didn’t want to interrupt him, so we didn’t get more info.
Fast forwarding to this year, though, we did get a different answer! “The very first tomato that I eat for the season, juicy and still warm from the sun, is my absolute favorite.” That experience, he shared, simply screams “summer” to him.
We hope that helps. Know that we’ve marked our calendars for May 2022 to put some more pressure on Farmer Lee. In the meantime, here are our incredibly flavorful tomatoes for 2021. Enjoy!
Most Flavorful Tomatoes Available
Whenever we talk to chefs about what they want in tomatoes for their dishes and menus, the answer typically focuses on flavor. Fortunately, every one of our farm-fresh varieties has a uniquely delicious flavor, each so wonderful that you can enjoy them with a dash of salt or fresh basil or with mozzarella in a salad. Or you can use them in a wide range of mouth-watering dishes and cuisines. No matter how you use them, we stand by our belief that our regeneratively farming techniques produce the most flavorful tomatoes you can find anywhere today.
Wondering why we grow so many tomato varieties? Chef Jamie Simpson of the Culinary Vegetable Institute answered that question in an Ohio Magazine interview a couple of years ago: “We try to make it more manageable for a chef who says, ‘I need a really small, high-impact tomato that’s high acid, high moisture and thick skin.’ We can whittle through our notes and find the right one for them.”
So, please contact your product specialist for help in getting exactly the right fresh tomatoes for your needs.
Delicious Tomato Recipes
First, we invite you to watch this visual representation of the following tomato recipes:
Pickled Fried Green Tomatoes
Filet au Tomate
Smoked Orange Sorbet
Smoked Tomato Soup
Tomato, Bell Pepper, and Rice
Squash Blossom Tomato Herb Focaccia
Fresh Heirloom Tomato Zucchini Salsa
Tomatoes in Garlic Confit
Farm Fresh Salsa
Once upon a time, of course, people wouldn’t have tried any of these tomato recipes, believing that this ingredient was poisonous. This thinking likely began to change on June 28, 1820 when a man named Robert Gibbon Johnson supposedly sank his teeth into a fresh tomato—in public, mind you, by a courthouse!—a tomato that he’d personally grown on his property in Salem, New Jersey.
Johnson was a well-respected man in his community and people came from all over to witness this brave (foolhardy?!?) act. A crowd of 2,000 people was said to swell the courthouse grounds. Legend has it that a doctor was also available.
Just . . . in . . . case.
Rumor has it that some of these concerned citizens fluttered in shock—even fainted—when they saw Johnson take that first dangerous bite.
As you might guess, he survived this adventure, no problem, and people in the United States began to open up their minds about the lovely tomato.
Health Benefits of Tomatoes
“Bennett claimed that he had done research on the tomato and found that it was capable of curing several ailments including diarrhea, cholera, jaundice, indigestion, and rheumatism. Bennett encouraged people to cook down tomatoes into a sauce to benefit from the fruit’s healing properties. His research was widely publicized across all major American newspapers.” (HistoryOfYesterday.com)
Once Americans, in general, were convinced that the tomato wasn’t poisonous, the pendulum swung the other way. This change took place in 1834 when Dr. John Cooke Bennett added them to ketchup and then claimed all sorts of health benefit of tomatoes. (The earliest form of ketchup was likely a fermented fish sauce).
So, what’s the truth? Well, although Bennett exaggerated the characteristics of ketchup, tomatoes do in fact have all sorts of health benefits. For heart health, for example, the American Heart Association suggests that you designate certain days of the week as a red/green/orange one—and tomatoes would fit in perfectly.
The reason that tomatoes are so helpful in reducing the risk of heart disease—as well as cancer—is explained by Healthline.com. As this nutrition site explains, tomatoes are the “major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits.”
Studies that examine the connection between eating tomatoes and protecting your health include these:
A study published on by National Library of Medicine shows how lycopene can “decrease the risk of any stroke and ischemic stroke in men.”
Another study published on the same site indicates that low levels of lycopene can increase the risk of heart attacks in men.
Yet another study shows how lycopene can reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
Healthline.com also shares studies from trusted sources that suggest eating tomatoes can help to lower risks of prostate, lung, stomach, and breast cancers.
Plus, cooked tomatoes can help to protect your skin from the sun, according to research we discussed a few years ago.
At The Chef’s Garden, we grow for the maximum in flavor and nutrition, with independent research verifying that the crops that we farm regeneratively often have 200 to 500% more minerals than the USDA baseline. So, when you choose the most flavorful tomatoes available today, your diners can also enjoy nutritional benefits.
Versatility of the Tomato
“One of the most colorful and versatile foods in our diet is the tomato. Tomatoes have found their way into many of America’s favorite foods, and we can feel great about eating them.” (Michigan State University)
Tomatoes are used in cuisines across the world (so wouldn’t it be fun to travel the globe, tasting tomato dishes wherever you went?). Mayans and Mesoamericans were the first known cultures to enjoy tomatoes and, after the Spanish brought them home from Mexico, they were probably also taken to Spanish settlements in Florida.
French Huguenots may have brought them to today’s Carolinas in the United States—or they could have found their way to the American Colonies through the Caribbean. What we do know: wealthy French and Spanish immigrants featured tomatoes in Creole recipes that were enjoyed in today’s New Orleans, Louisiana—ones that are still cherished today.
Italian farmers and cooks were appreciating the tomato as far back as 1550. In England, Mrs. Beeton was sharing tomato recipes for women in the 19th century to make for their families. Here’s her tomato sauce recipe:
1 blade of mace
salt and cayenne to taste
Cut the tomatoes in two and squeeze the juice and seeds out; put them in a stewpan with all the ingredients and let them simmer gently until the tomatoes are tender enough to pulp; rub the whole through a sieve, boil it for a few minutes, and serve. The shallots and spices may be omitted when their flavour is objected to.
Today, of course, tomatoes truly are a global wonder. When CNN published their list of the best 50 recipes from around the world, nine of them contained tomatoes.
Plus, it’s important to not leave out Mideastern cuisines. As Delicious.com.au notes, “Across Iran, Afghanistan, Israel, Cyprus, Lebanon and Turkey, the tomato is the most ubiquitous ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking. It’s used fresh in a rainbow of salads and cooked in almost every stew, broth and tagine – not to mention grilled with kebab and other mezze.”
Tomatoes often trigger memories in people, whether they’re from childhood or from an unforgettable dining experience (or both). Here’s what one chef told us when he visited the farm. He “loves to breathe in tomato-scented air, reminiscing about how the smell of tomato leaves reminds him of the garden his family kept when he was a kid. Tomato leaves have such a unique smell”—and you know we agree.
Plus, one Huffington Post writer offers up the following quote, a concept that Farmer Lee fully embraces: “Could there be anything more perfect than a ripe tomato, freshly picked, still warm from the sun? Tomatoes are one of those special foods that make our hearts flutter.”
And we’ll end with a quote from Farmer Lee himself. “As I smell the tomato leaves as I walk towards the vines,” he shares, “and as I smell the soil and feel the sun on my back, the experience is purely spiritual. It’s about that miracle, the miracle that happens when God gives us a seed and then it turns into such a majestic, glorious gift.”
Choosing Just the Right Fresh Tomatoes
Please contact your product specialist to share the specifics of the tomatoes you need for your dishes and menus. We look forward to serving you, providing exactly the right delicious and nutritious fresh tomatoes that have been regeneratively farmed with love and harvested with care upon your order.