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Tunnel Vision …

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”
American Humorist and Writer Lewis Grizzard.

I love this quote because I can feel the juice running down my chin whenever I read it. Every now and then, up here at the Dimond Hill Farm, we like to pluck the fleshy fruit right from the vine and eat it like an apple. Ummmmm … there’s nothing like tomatoes in season to make you appreciate being born with taste buds.

Tomatoes are a staple of the New England backyard garden, mostly because they seem to thrive with very little work on the part of the gardener. In fact, with the proper kind of neglect, tomatoes can easily overrun a small backyard plot.

I guess that’s why there’re so many tomato-growing products out there. I mean, you can buy tomato cages and tomato baskets and tomato sprays that either feed the plant or kill the critters feeding on the plant … why I’ve even seen television ads for contraptions that let you grow your tomatoes upside down … I guess to save money on stakes and string.

DHF_tomato tunnel view_july4

Anyway, up here at the farm we grow tomatoes two ways: in the tunnels just up-hill from the farmhouse, and in the fields across the street.

The tunnels allow Jane to have more control over the growing conditions, especially early in the season when Mother Nature is so unpredictable. Tunnels allow for consistent watering, good drainage, and controlled feeding designed to give the plant what it needs just when it needs it. This arrangement also makes it easier to prune the plants and harvest the fruit, and it extends the growing season … a real plus in the Northern New England region.

dhf_tunnel vision

So … now that you know how we grow the best tomatoes in New England (modesty prevents us from making wider claims), we’d like to pass along a little information that the folks at Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazines provided after conducting some research into how to keep your tomatoes tasting fresh-from-the-vine for a longer period of time.

It seems as if the America’s Test Kitchen folks from Cook’s Country figured out that the stem end of the tomato is the weak link, so to speak, providing a doorway for tomato-rotting mold and bacteria. Their testing showed that tomatoes stayed fresher longer if they were stored stem side down, rather than stem side up … as many of us are used to storing them … because it looks nicer. Testers also discovered that a piece of tape placed over the stem end worked just as well (of course, they didn’t say what kind of tape to use … but we’re assuming that it’s duct tape … mostly because we have a case of duct tape in the barn).

Researchers also found that putting unripe tomatoes in the refrigerator gives them that mealy texture that takes much of the joy out of the tomato-eating experience. Unripe tomatoes should be stored in a paper bag at room temperature and out of sunlight for up to three days until they ripen. After that, it’s okay to refrigerate (but they also can be kept on the counter, out of sunlight, for up to a week).

So what’s the best way to ensure you’ll get to enjoy the freshest tasting tomatoes? Eat them within 48 hours of being picked.

“And just how do I do that?” you may ask … the only way I know of is to buy your tomatoes at the Dimond Hill Farm Stand from 10 am to 6 pm, every day of the week.

Come to think of it, I’m going to select me a beauty right now, slice through that rosy pink flesh, add a little salt and pepper, layer it with a fresh basil leaf, some smoked mozzarella, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and enjoy the good life for a few minutes, here.

You know, sometimes it’s good to have tunnel vision …

Well … nuff said.

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