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Dry Farm Tomatoes

By Newleaf Staff on Sep 20, 2016 1:00 AM

We all know the saying “tomato- tomahto” but as it turns out, not all tomatoes are created equal. While many of us are familiar with the hefty and colorful heirloom tomato, there is another big name that hits the produce shelves of small Californian grocery stores in early September—we’re talking about dry farmed tomatoes!

What is so special about dry farmed tomatoes?

First and foremost, people rave about dry farmed tomatoes for their incredible flavor. These small, round, bright red fruits pack an intense, sweet flavor and a rich texture that is unmatched. Dry farmed tomatoes are available around the Central Coast for a limited time only and ripen anywhere from mid-July to mid-October. They are possibly the most eagerly awaited harvest of the year—so get em’ while you can!

What is the Dry Farm Technique?

Here in California, we have become increasingly familiar with drought in the past couple years, especially during the summer months. The practice of dry farming allows tomato plants to be watered in the beginning—but only until their roots are established. After that, all water is cut off, forcing the plant to send out deep tap roots, and survive off what’s readily available—aka subsurface water. The result of this method is a self-sustained plant that puts more energy into the fruit, creating a flavorful, firm tomato.

This technique, as you can imagine, is also much more environmentally friendly than conventional tomato farming. The method of dry farming originated in the Mediterranean, where it is more commonly used to grow olives and grapes. Dry farming is not as practical in areas where summer rains are a frequent occurrence because the excess moisture will damage the fruit.

History and health benefits of tomatoes

Although tomatoes are typically thought of as an Italian or Mediterranean staple, the plant originated in Mexico, and was later brought back to Europe by Spanish conquistadors. Today, the popular tomato is known for its high content of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant shown to be protective against many types of cancer, specifically prostate. In addition, tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, biotin, vitamin K, niacin, and folic acid.

Storage Tip

Never keep tomatoes in the fridge. Tomatoes do not like the cold, and will turn mealy and bland. Keep them on the counter out of direct sunlight.

Eat Em’ Up

Fresh tomatoes are the perfect addition to salads or soups. Make a quick easy salad by drizzling tomato slices with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.
Throw together a salsa fresca dip by pulsing chopped tomato, onion, cilantro, chills, lime juice and sea salt in the food processor.
Puree tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, green onions and a little avocado in the blender for a refreshing gazpacho soup.
Dry farmed tomatoes are perfect for salads, fresh salsa, tomato jam, chutney or just about anything.
Can fresh tomatoes and save them for winter!

 

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