Earlier this week, while Donald Trump was explaining why he called on supporters to "knock the crap" out of anyone who might throw a rotten tomato at the stage, he said: "If you get hit in the face with a tomato, let me tell you, with somebody with a strong arm at least, let me tell you, it can be very damaging." It's not often that presidential candidates weigh in on fresh produce, let alone ripe tomatoes, so we thought we'd take this opportunity to talk about a few of the tomato varieties we're planting this year and how dangerous they are. In the interest of clarity, we're expressing our assessment of danger as a Danger to Flavor ratio.
sun gold - these little orange tomatoes are deceiving. insanely sweet, small, and juicy, they appear harmless at first glance, enticing the oblivious consumer into grabbing a handful whenever they're near. "what's the worst that could happen?" you might ask as you eat your way through the first pint. but all too soon, the box is empty, leaving only a few juicy reminders of the pleasure you just experienced. this is not an option. more sungolds are all you can think about. finding your next fix of these orange gems consumes you. you find yourself wandering the aisles of shaw's late at night, desperately hoping to find a new source - but alas, the tender sun golds are too delicate for shipping, meaning you'll never find that sweet fix on a grocery store shelf. you try store-bought cherry tomatoes and spit them out immediately, finding none of what you crave. desolation sets in. darkness follows. until your old hat csa arrives.
danger:flavor ratio 1:2 (high danger, higher flavor)
big beef - the mainstay of our red, slicing tomato crop and a variety that small growers have trusted for years. these meaty tomatoes are the real deal - nice beefsteak interior, very productive, known to sometimes produce 20-30 lbs of fruit off a single plant! these tomatoes can get big, while still staying firm enough to hold up on a sandwich. the size and texture make these tomatoes the most dangerous of the pack. Danger:Flavor ratio - 1:1 (high danger, equally high flavor)
juliet - there is nothing scary about these. they're too cute. 2" long tomatoes you can use in literally any situation where tomatoes are appropriate. sauce? yes, they're meaty enough to cook down without too much boiling. salads? yes please, a little bigger than a cherry but just as sweet. they're also one of our favorite canners - we pack them whole into jars for the winter. Danger:Flavor ratio - 0:1 (no danger, high flavor)
martha washington - these are big tomatoes, larger than big beef, we hope. a nice heirloomy variety with pink shoulders. this is one of alex's favorite sandwich tomatoes - we have been known to pack only a knife and bread for lunch on the farm, letting martha washington take care of the rest. they would have similar heft if launched, but we're going to take advantage of one of local agriculture's primary benefits (we can pick things when they're legitimately ripe and not have to artificially ripen them in the back of a truck) in assessing our ratio. if unripe, this could be a 2 lb brick hurtling towards your candidate of choice, but we'll be picking them right as they ripen, a little soft and pretty delicate. accordingly, 2:5 (low danger, high flavor)
We have a few other varieties picked out too (and maybe a few more on the way), but wanted to bring you this timely update as many of you are wrestling with deciding when to sign up for the CSA. here at old hat, we want you to have the facts: tomatoes can be dangerous, but ours will be worth it.