Tomatoes in season at farmers’ market

Jul. 21, 2014 @ 09:27 AM

It is now officially tomato season!

There's nothing that says summer like a tomato sandwich. Every year I'm surprised by all the different varieties of tomatoes at the market. There are green tomatoes, red tomatoes, purple tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, and even striped tomatoes. There are tomatoes that are better for slicing or snacking and others that are better for canning.

According to the USDA there are over 25,000 varieties of tomatoes. At market this year I've counted several dozen varieties, including Red Slicing, Matt's Wild Cherry, Sungold, Purple Cherokee, Garden Peach, and Green Zebra. 

Once you buy your tomatoes it's best to let them sit out on your counter, stem side down, until you eat them. When you put tomatoes in the refrigerator it can affect their ripeness and texture.

Tomatoes only last a few days, so it's best to eat them right away. Canning tomatoes is a great way to ensure that you'll be eating local tomatoes all winter long. Many farmers sell tomatoes that are cosmetically challenged or "seconds"- these tomatoes are great for canning.

 On average, Americans eat 23 pounds of tomatoes a year, with most of those pounds going to processed products like salsa and sauce. Why not eat as many fresh market tomatoes this summer as you can? And while you're at it, try a new variety.

 Emily-Kate Hannapel is assistant market manager of the Durham Farmers Market, open 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays and 3:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays at 501 Foster St.  in downtown Durham.