From an agricultural standpoint, tomatoes are incredibly prolific plants that are fast-growing, vigorous, and abundant. In terms of selection, there are two main types: determinate and indeterminate varieties. At The Ecology Center, we grow both. Determinate tomatoes are varieties that ripen all at the same time – so you harvest and then glean the field. These are our paste tomatoes that we use for all our pantry products that are harvested and canned in large batches, including: ketchup, tomato sauce, etc. Indeterminate varieties are harvested literally every single day and are a bit more vigorous in their growth. First thing in the morning, all summer, Augustin and his team go into the field to harvest the ripe tomatoes that end up in the Farm Stand and Farm Share Harvest Boxes that day.
From a culinary perspective, there are also two types of tomatoes: cooking and eating. Cooking or sauce tomatoes, like San Marzano and Paisano, have less juice and smaller interior seed cavities, making them better to cook. For eating, our hardest working tomato is called Early Girl, a perfect everyday slicer for salads and veggie burgers. Of our more unique and colorful heirloom varieties, Brandywine and Carbon are large and mottled with deep flavor, Striped Germans are yellow and red and bright, and Green Zebras have green and yellow striation with a tartness. As with many ingredients, learning what tomato works best when is part of the process and we encourage you to try all our varieties of heirloom tomatoes this season.
Enjoy these jewels of summer!