Shopping the Farmers Market: Why Blog

After years of frequenting the farmers markets in NYC, but only buying a few supplemental ingredients here or there, I decided to be experimental and work dishes around what is in season or looks particularly mouthwatering at the market that day. Green seems to be the buzz word these days from NYC to the White House, and the eat local movement is in full swing. My attempt here is to buy as many ingredients as possible from a the farmers market, and then occasionally supplement with locally produced ingredients from chain markets around the city. Most of the recipes I post (except for the baking recipes) are either things I created myself, or variations on recipes I've found elsewhere. I hope that you take the recipes and shopping tips here and they inspire you to do your own local cooking.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Heirloom Tomato Guide

I ended up going to visit my parents this weekend in Massachusetts. So although I couldn't make it to the regular farmers market, I did visit a farm stand in Concord, Ma. I actually mentioned this place in my blue cheese burger post while talking about heirloom tomatoes. It's called Verrill Farm (, and has been around since 1995, though the family had been running a dairy in the town since 1918.

I did cook tonight, but I had a large scale, un-food related disaster occur while making the dish. My computer decided to explode while I was backing it up, and erase most of my backup drive, so I may be out of the internet world for a week or two once I'm back in NYC. Luckily, I had already planned to do an heirloom tomato primer. There are so many different varieties of the late summer fruit that I thought I'd fill you in on what's what, when to take a big bite of one, and when to leave one for cooking. This isn't every heirloom tomato variety, just what was at the farm today.

Amana Orange: Large orange tomatoes originally from the Amana colonies in Iowa.

Arkansas Traveler:
Have a creamy, mild flavor. Originally from the Ozark Mountains.

Big, impressive beefsteak variety. Old fashioned, big tomato taste.

Big Beef: Hybrid that is good to grow in the home garden.

Big Rainbow: Large, bi-colored tomato.

Black Truffle: A Japanese pear shaped variety. Flavor is deep, chocolatey, smokey, and rich.

Brandy Boy: Hybrid of brandywine

Carbon: Among the darkest of the black tomatoes. Exceptionally rich and sweet flavor.

Small fruit, great flavor.

Delicious: A very large red beefstake that produces 1 - 2 lb meaty, solid fruits. Great on hamburgers.

Medium, globe shaped. Smooth and firm.

Fabulous: Ideal blend of sweet and tangy, and soft and firm.

Garden Peach:
Light yellow fruits that have a fuzzy texture and resemble mini-peaches.

Green Pineapple: Small beefsteak. Unique, fruity aroma that is released when you cut into the fruit. Slightly spicy

Green Zebra: Green with light green/yellow stripes. Very full bodied flavor, good in salads.

Health kick: This is a hybrid. It has 50% more lycopene than other varieties, an antioxidant that is supposed to help with cancer. Great in salads and cooking.

Jetstar: Superior, very pleasant taste. Firm, meaty fruits full of cracks. Not recommended for canning.

Legend: Introduced at Oregon State University. Nice blend of sugar and acid.

Mountain Fresh: I couldn't find much about this one.

Mountain Fresh Plus: Developed by NC State. Easily grown by a home gardener.

Mr. Stripy: Red and yellow striped fruit that is low in acid. Great raw!

Mule Team: Medium sized red fruits. Bright red, all purpose tomato

Orange Russian:
Bi-color Oxheart. Heart shaped with smooth golden flesh. Marbled inside with streaks of red. Sweet and fruity and flavor with few seeds.

Paul Robeson:
A great black, with great sweet, yet tangy flavor.

Persimmon: One of the best flavors of all the orange tomatoes. Meaty with few seed.

Red Brandywine: An Amish variety with great flavor

Rose: Smooth, round fruit with no blemishes. Thin skin and juicy, sweet flavor with a bit of zing.

San Marzano: A great paste tomato. Good crushed in a tomato sauce.

Striped German: Marbled interior looks beautiful sliced. Complex, fruity flavor and smooth texture.

Supersteak: Rich and full of flavor; improved beefsteak tomato. Superior disease resistance.

Very sweet and flavorful.

White Queen:
Large, white, beefsteak tomatoes. One of the whitest of the lighter varieties. Smooth except for ribbed shoulders. Juicy and sweet with a well balanced flavor.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome guide! I love me some heirloom tomatoes - I just picked some up at Trader Joe's this morning. Sorry about the computer problems...I swear, sometimes technology BLOWS.