Tag Archives: heirloom tomatoes

3 Storage Tomatoes You Can Grow to Eat Fresh Tomatoes Next Winter

Eating local comes with a plethora of benefits. When you eat from your backyard or even local farms you get healthier, fresher ingredients. You also lower your environmental impact because eating food from close to home saves tons of energy that’s typically used to transport and refrigerate food from all across the globe.

But eating local can also be really tough. Most have us have become accustomed to having easy access to fresh produce whenever we want it. No matter how much we can, dry, and freeze during the summer months that fresh, grocery store produce starts to look really tasty each winter, even if we know those pale mealy tomatoes will never come close to our backyard slicers.

While there’s no real replacement for sinking your teeth into a freshly picked tomato, still warm with the summer sun you can still enjoy fresh homegrown tomatoes in the winter. Southern Exposure offers three tomato varieties that are good for fresh winter storage.

Garden Peach Tomato

Garden Peach Tomato

This indeterminate tomato is ready to harvest in just 73 days. If harvested green just before the frost the Garden Peach is an excellent storage tomato. It also has outstanding flavor, vigorous vines, and is split resistant.

Long Keeper Winter Storage Tomato

Long Keeper Winter Storage Tomato

Though it’s quality doesn’t quite match a fresh, summer garden tomato most find it to be superior to supermarket tomatoes. Plus it allows you to eat fresh, local food well into the winter. Some customers even report storing Long Keeper for 4-6 months! The Long Keeper is a semi-determinate tomato that’s ready to harvest in 78 days and ripens 6-12 weeks after harvest.

Reverend Morrows Long Keeper Winter Storage Tomato

Reverend Morrows Long Keeper Winter Storage Tomato

The Reverend Morrows Long Keeper is a determinate Louisiana heirloom. It’s 83 days to harvest and has good storage qualities.

If you intend to use any of these varieties for winter storage it’s best to plant them in late spring or midsummer depending on how long your season is. You should plan to be harvesting them just before your first frost if you want them to keep into winter as long as possible.

Once harvested these tomatoes should be stored at room temperature with air space in between each tomato. They won’t last as long if they’re touching. Only unblemished tomatoes should be stored. You should also go through the tomatoes weekly to check for ripe ones that can be used and remove any that are rotting.

Adding one of these awesome varieties can help you add more local food to your diet on a year round basis. They’re well worth a little extra effort!

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Super Easy Fresh Tomato Salsa & Tomato Tastings!

When we have all the ingredients to make garden fresh salsa I know that summer is finally in full swing. The garden has started overflowing with squash, peppers, garlic, beans, and my absolute favorite tomatoes!

This quick fresh salsa is one of my favorite summer dishes. It looks fancy, tastes, great, and comes together in minutes. Making it perfect to throw together for lunch after working in the field or making to share at a family barbeque.

This recipe is also one of those that you can play with a lot.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2-3 good sized tomatoes (mine weighed about 1 1/2lbs)

2 sweet banana peppers (or 1/2 a sweet bell pepper)

1/2 small onion

1 jalapeño pepper

1 clove of garlic

1/2 TBS lemon/lime juice

Cilantro to taste (if dried I use about 3/4 tsp and a small handful if fresh)

Salt & pepper to taste

There’s a few points to note when selecting ingredients. The tomatoes, in my humble opinion, are absolutely what make this recipe. Use homegrown or from a local farmer, storebought tomatoes just aren’t worth it. Paste tomatoes will make for a less watery salsa but I just go with whatever I have on  hand. I adore the look of salsa made with different color heirlooms.

You can also vary the peppers. I like a mix of sweet and hot peppers. The sweet bananas are super easy to grow and I find that 1 jalapeño adds a lot of flavor with out being overwhelmingly spicy but if you like it hotter or grow other types of peppers, go for it! Just try adding a little at a time.

I’ve used both yellow and purple onions and am happy with both but many people find they prefer purple onions for salsa. The cilantro and garlic can also be varied to taste. Fresh is better but in a pinch you can use dried cilantro and garlic powder.

To prepare:

Begin by dicing the tomatoes, peppers, onion, and cilantro. I like mine chunky but you can dice your ingredients as small or large as desired. For a smoother salsa pulse all the ingredients in a food proccessor until the desired consistency is reached.

Mince and add the garlic clove and stir in the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. It’s so good you may eat it all with just a bag of tortilla chips but it’s also excellent with tacos.

Don’t stop reading tomato fans!

If you’re as fanatical about homegrown tomatoes as I am be sure to stop in and visit Southern Exposure at two upcoming tomato tasting events!

On July 29 SESE will be at the Home Grown Tomato Tasting,  in Charlotte, NC
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange will be hosting a “Seed Swap” at the Tomato Tasting.

The Homegrown Tomato Festival is an all-day tomato themed event where tomato lovers can try dozens of different backyard tomatoes, crown the region’s best tomato grower, drink tomato themed cocktails, enjoy live music and more! This event is a fundraiser for 100 Gardens, a Charlotte based 501c3 that teaches agriculture and aquaponics in local schools, correctional institutions and also in Haiti. For more information about 100 Gardens or this event visit www.homegrowntomato.org or www.100gardens.org.

Aug 5: Botanical Garden Summer Sampler Tomato Tasting in Norfolk,VA
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange will be offering samples of a variety of tomatoes and have seeds available for purchase. Be sure to stop in and find your favorite variety to grow for next year!

 

How to Choose the Right Tomato Varieties for Your Garden

Radiator-Charlie's-Mortgage-Lifter-tomato-SESE-web

By Ira Wallace, with Lisa Dermer

Mention summer gardens and the first thing to come up is which tomatoes are you growing? Year after year tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables grown by our customers.  In our 2017 catalog we offer more than 100 different tomato varieties. There are currant tomatoes as small as a dime and big beefsteaks like Mortgage Lifter and Brandywine that can weigh well over a pound (plus every size in between and more shapes than most gardeners can imagine). In addition to the ever popular red and pink varieties there are orange, yellow, black, bi-color and even green varieties. We offer something for every gardener, but how to decide which to grow this year?

There are many criteria that could be used but these four are basic for me:

1. Flavor and texture – the first thing I consider is fruit qualities like flavor and texture for the sandwiches, sauces, and salads we like to eat. Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter tomato (photo top) is a large heirloom slicer with superb flavor, but be prepared for its long season and indeterminate growth habit (read on).

2. Days to maturity – is not just important for those with a short growing season. In many areas of the Southeast there are two seasons for tomatoes and other summer vegetables. The period in late July and August when it is too hot for tomatoes and sweet peppers to set fruit well, means we grow two crops: one to mature before the hottest spell, and one after. Fast-maturing early and medium days to maturity varieties are really important in such areas. Stupice is a favorite early variety: the small-to-medium size fruits have excellent heirloom-type flavor. We also list several Extra-Early tomatoes.

matts wild cherry tomato SESE

3. Growth style– there are two main growth habits for tomatoes:

-Determinate varieties that grow to a certain height (usually 2-3ft) then stop growing and mature all of the fruit in a short period of time.  Many paste tomatoes are determinate. These varieties are great for canning and well suited to growing in short or split season areas

-Indeterminate tomatoes keep growing, flowering and setting fruit until stopped by frost, disease, or really bad weather. Most Cherry and large beefsteak tomatoes are indeterminate, They need to be caged or staked with a really sturdy support.  Most really large heirloom tomatoes are indeterminate. These varieties are great if you have plenty of space, warm summer temperatures, and a long enough growing season. Delicious and super productive Matt’s Wild Cherry (photo) is a very small cherry tomato with tall, determinate plants.

-The Dwarf Tomato Project has given gardeners a new set of options, with short (2-4 feet tall) plants bred from heirlooms, and retaining heirloom flavor quality, that are easier to trellis and to grow in containers. We offer Rosella Purple, for diminutive plants with fantastic fruits similar to Cherokee Purple.

4. Disease resistance-Find out which diseases are common in your area and select resistant varieties whenever possible. As organic gardeners our first line of defense is prevention. When reading a seed catalog or looking at the back of a seed packet, disease resistances are often shown with an abbreviation after the name. For example verticilium (V) and frusarium (F) wilts are common soil-borne tomato diseases. Look for the V or F after the variety name. Nematodes (N) are  another common disease with resistant varieties available. Roma VF and Tropic VFN are excellent disease resistant varieties and show how the disease resistance is sometimes incorporated in the name.

More resources on www.SouthernExposure.com for tomato growers: