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rlibkind

Jersey Tomatos

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I also got some pretty nice maters on Saturday at the Head House Farmer's market. They were big and very heavy. Not cheap either at $3.69/lb. But delicious.

I didn't catch the farmer's name but he said he's at (I think) 5th & South Streets on Wednesdays as well. He's the guy with the white picnic netting over the little cups of samples. One taste and you'd buy them too. :wub:


Katie M. Loeb
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Good Jersey Tomatoes need heat.  The very cool June we had may affect this year's crop.. Regardless, the best tomatoes don't appear until at the earliest mid-August, and this year probably later.  The tomatoes available now are probably tasteless.

Don't be such a poop until you try them, menton1!

The Jersey tomatoes I've purchased at Iovine's have been far from tasteless. Are they as good as the Jerseys and other local tomatoes of mid and late August? Of course not. But they have been tasty with decent texture. These are not winter Mexican tomatoes by any stretch of the imagination.

That's what surprised me and why I bothered to start this message string on June 27. That first batch I tasted what was Jimmy Iovine described as "Number One" which he priced at $2.49 a pound. For whatever reason (either they didn't sell at that price or the profit was insufficient) he discontinued that and instead offered "Number Twos". They are a little smaller and hence, have a higher proportion of scar, and he priced them at 99 cents a pound. I could detect no significant taste difference.

At this point in summer, the tomatoes taste as they should: real. But they will develop better flavor as July turns to August.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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I am growing tomatoes on my farm in Hopewell, NJ. For the previous 5 years I worked on a farm in central, PA that grew a lot of tomatoes. To the best of my knowledge there is no "Jersey tomato" or "Pennsylvania tomato"- it's all about tomato variety and how and where they are grown. Most tomatoes you have been getting up until now (that have been grown in this area) are from "tunnels" either heated or unheated plastic greenhouses. I have been picking red "Buffalo tomatoes" and yellow "Azafrans" for about a month from my unheated tunnel. They are planted in the soil, just covered by a plastic frame and sometimes a row cover too, to keep it as hot as possible in there during late april, may and June. Most people think greenhouse grown tomatoes lack flavor, but I think that is mostly a myth and perhaps they are confusing them with hydroponic tomatoes which are not grown in soil but feed off a "nutrient mix" ( I honestly don't know much about hydroponics, sorry.) You can also plant the same varieties in tunnels as you do in the field.

As for flavor- go for the heirlooms! Cherokee Purples, green zebras, Brandywines, striped Germans! The uglier the better! These heirloom tomatoes are generally older varieties that have not been genetically breed for shelf life, color, etc. The problem with growing them is that they have definately not been breed to be split or disease resistant. This makes for a lot of split, unsaleable tomatoes. Hence usually a higher price. I usually bring my split ones also for the customers who are ok with splits. It just means they are ripe and ready to eat!

I sell my tomatoes for $3.00 a pound. It sounds like a lot to me too, but once you understand what goes into growing tomatoes on a larger than garden scale, you'll understand. I'd be happy to detail the life of a tomato crop, but I don't want to be preachy. Just if anyone's interested....


Squashblossom

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Thanks for the info, Squashblossom. I agree about your recommendation for heirlooms. They are pricier but more flavorful. They haven't shown up yet at the Reading Terminal Market, but the farm stand vendors there will have them when they are available. The various purple, black and striped varieties are excellent.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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I love those green zebras. They're probably my favorites for a tomato salad, because of how they are firm and hold their shape and texture when cut, and at the same time have enough acidity that they don't get insipid like some of the sweeter yellow tomatoes tend to.

Also they look nice.

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I am growing tomatoes on my farm in Hopewell, NJ. For the previous 5 years I worked on a farm in central, PA that grew a lot of tomatoes. To the best of my knowledge there is no "Jersey tomato" or "Pennsylvania tomato"- it's all about tomato variety and how and where they are grown. Most tomatoes you have been getting up until now (that have been grown in this area) are from "tunnels" either heated or unheated plastic greenhouses. I have been picking red "Buffalo tomatoes" and yellow "Azafrans" for about a month from my unheated tunnel. They are planted in the soil, just covered by a plastic frame and sometimes a row cover too, to keep it as hot as possible in there during late april, may and June. Most people think greenhouse grown tomatoes lack flavor, but I think that is mostly a myth and perhaps they are confusing them with hydroponic tomatoes which are not grown in soil but feed off a "nutrient mix" ( I honestly don't know much about hydroponics, sorry.) You can also plant the same varieties in tunnels as you do in the field.

As for flavor- go for the heirlooms! Cherokee Purples, green zebras, Brandywines, striped Germans! The uglier the better! These heirloom tomatoes are generally older varieties that have not been genetically breed for shelf life, color, etc. The problem with growing them is that they have definately not been breed to be split or disease resistant. This makes for a lot of split, unsaleable tomatoes. Hence usually a higher price. I usually bring my split ones also for the customers who are ok with splits. It just means they are ripe and ready to eat!

I sell my tomatoes for $3.00 a pound. It sounds like a lot to me too, but once you understand what goes into growing tomatoes on a larger than garden scale, you'll understand. I'd be happy to detail the life of a tomato crop, but I don't want to be preachy. Just if anyone's interested....

Well, heck, I'm in Princeton--so where can I find your tomatoes for sale?

So far the crop of so-called Jersey Tomatoes at the Trenton Farmers Market has been sub-par, but I kn ow to wait until August.


Rich Pawlak

 

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Katie, my first thought in reading your posts was what Sqashblossom referred to later on..that there is not a variety called Jersey..just varieties GROWN in Jersey!

Also, the mishapen ones, and I'm no expert, are the heirlooms, a collective name, as I understand it, of "pure" bred tomatoes of different varieties.


Edited by Kim WB (log)

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My local farmers here in Central NJ say that all crops are at least two weeks earlier than any year in recent memory, due to the fair weather. For tomatoes, I grow heirlooms, and they should be ready in a week or two, while I usually don't get many until mid-August, as they are a late ripening crop -- 80-90 days from planting, unlike the earlier varieties that are 55-75 days. Here's a big caveat, however. After the rain of yesterday, I am now frantically worried that many of them will have blossom-end rot. My advice is to get whatever you can whenever you can, even if they are not yet at their prime.

There is nothing on earth like a beautifully vine-ripened Brandywine tomato. And remember -- never refrigerate tomatoes, nor buy them from people who do!

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Katie, my first thought in reading your posts was what Sqashblossom referred to later on..that there is not a variety called Jersey..just varieties GROWN in Jersey!

Also, the mishapen ones, and I'm no expert, are the heirlooms, a collective name, as I understand it, of "pure" bred tomatoes of different varieties.

This may all be true, but the farm markets where I've purchased the mutant mis-shapen ones I pictured earlier have always called those "Jersey" tomatoes. And sometimes they've been right next to the heirlooms that were identified by variety. Go figure.

It's all rather confusing :wacko: I think it might be a matter of semantics at this point. Some folks call the Jersey GROWN tomatoes Jerseys and others seem to think it's a varietal. :hmmm:

I hope all the local farmers can recover from yesterday's flooding conditions. My understanding is that the Medford and Medford Lakes area is under several feet of water. :sad: Some areas got three months worth of rain in one day yesterday :shock:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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After the rain of yesterday, I am now frantically worried that many of them will have blossom-end rot.

Are you an organic gardener? If you're not, there's a spray you can get that'll prevent that problem.

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Mrbigjas: I'm not an organic gardener specifically, or intentionally, but I never spray my veggies with anything. What is the product you are talking about, and what does it contain? Truth be told, I was just outside trying to repair the damage (every single cage and pole was blown over -- now I have a cat's cradle of rope spanning around my yard) and I see that, as usual, I already have too many tomatoes. Many have already rotted, and many of the blossoms look damaged, but despite all that I think I'll still get several hundred, which is probably enough for my family of one.

Thanks for your concern and any info --

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The spray is called rot-stop or something to that effect.

I've done a bunch of research on this because of issues I've had with the same thing, and apparently blossom end rot is caused by an inefficient uptake of calcium by the plant. The cause of the Ca uptake problems is often water issues--exactly what you said--periods of lots of rain followed by dryness. So basically this spray is some kind of calcium based solution (CaCl if I'm not wrong), which you put directly on the plant, and supposedly it acts very quickly to stop the problem.

I don't know this from personal experience, though--I bought a bottle this year, but haven't had to use it since only the first few tomatoes on each of my plants were rotten.

I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

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Working late tonight to catch up on a few things. Ordered one of the dinner specials this evening to tide me over: Jersey Tomato Salad with crumbled Cabrales cheese and Baby Basil. Dressed simply with Fleur de Sel, first press EVOO and two large slices of grilled Rosemary focaccia. YUMMY!! :wub::wub:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Working late tonight to catch up on a few things. Ordered one of the dinner specials this evening to tide me over: Jersey Tomato Salad with crumbled Cabrales cheese and Baby Basil. Dressed simply with Fleur de Sel, first press EVOO and two large slices of grilled Rosemary focaccia. YUMMY!! :wub::wub:

That's a use of Fleur de Sel that justifies its price. It gets lost otherwise. Sounds like a great treat for working late.

Jersey Tomatoes are not a variety. There doesnt seem to be any kind of state trademark legal nonsense (like vidalia) so I think any variety grown in NJ would count.


Dum vivimus, vivamus!

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Is it my imagination or are some items earlier this year?

no, you aren't imagining anything. at our local northwest nj farmstand their first tomatoes and peppers came in this week, bi-color corn last week and their squashes two weeks before that. spoke with the owner who i have gotten to know over the last 20+ years and he said that unlike the last few years we had the rain and no rain at the right time. last year when everything was blooming it was terribly wet and a lot of the blooms rotted with out being cross-polinated. the year before was so dry up here that nothing grew since there was no water and everyting, when they finally bloomed, bloomed about a month late - why we got local corn up until the middle of october that year - though it wasn't very good corn. :sad:


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"Jersey Tomato" is a trademark of the New Jersey Tomato Council, a growers cooperative. The trademarked tomato is exclusively distributed by Eastern Fresh, a produce agent. Here's the website that explains it (though it does not specify the varities grown).

My guess is that the varieties are all related to those developed by Rutgers.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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I sell my tomatoes for $3.00 a pound.  It sounds like a lot to me too, but once you understand what goes into growing tomatoes on a larger than garden scale, you'll understand. I'd be happy to detail the life of a tomato crop, but I don't want to be preachy. Just if anyone's interested....

Squashblossom;

Don't know about others, but I'd be very interested is the detailed life of a tomato crop, especially one grown in a tunnel (heated and/or unheated) during the cold weather. My wife and I will be moving to the Chesapeake Bay in less than two years, and one of my fondest fantasies (that's printable :raz:) is of a tomato greenhouse or tunnel so I can get decent tomatoes year round. Is that doable? TIA.

THW


"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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I was lucky enough to wander into Iovine's on one of the weeks they had genuine Jersey field tomatoes on sale. After expressing my delight to an employee, I asked why those huge misshapen beauties are so rare anymore.

He told me that most NJ growers have switched to growing beefsteak tomatoes, which are more pleasing to the eye but less so to the palate.

Can we start a campaign to get some of the farmers who grow for sale (as opposed to processing) to switch back? Here's a slogan to get things started:

Ugly is Beautiful!

As for the "where they are grown" part: I've had some very tasty Lancaster County beefsteak tomatoes in the past, but the same variety grown in NJ seems to me to be a bit richer tasting.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

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I am so frustrated. I have hundreds of green tomatoes on the vine, but none of them have ripened, or even seem that they will ever ripen, because of the cool weather and all of this rain. What is going on? Does anyone else have this huge challenge with rain/no sun/cool temperatures. I live in central NJ.

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From the USDA's crop reporting weekly e-mail on NJ conditions:

Tomatoes - Tomatoes were planted a week or two later this year due to  cool and wet spring planting conditions yet started earlier than usual due to a lack of early frost exposure and favorable growing conditions.  Good quantity and very good quality available this week. Plum tomatoes are also available in good volume with similar very good quality.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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I was lucky enough to wander into Iovine's on one of the weeks they had genuine Jersey field tomatoes on sale. After expressing my delight to an employee, I asked why those huge misshapen beauties are so rare anymore.

He told me that most NJ growers have switched to growing beefsteak tomatoes, which are more pleasing to the eye but less so to the palate.

Can we start a campaign to get some of the farmers who grow for sale (as opposed to processing) to switch back? Here's a slogan to get things started:

Ugly is Beautiful!

As for the "where they are grown" part: I've had some very tasty Lancaster County beefsteak tomatoes in the past, but the same variety grown in NJ seems to me to be a bit richer tasting.

Maybe we could get Satch from "Get Fuzzy" to be the spokesdog.

He's about as rumpled and bulgy as a Jersey 'mater.

Then again, so am I.

Oh, yeah, just finished lunch: a pair of grilled cheese sammiches on Arnold's Country White with sharp cheddar and thinly sliced "Jersey Devil" tomatoes. Oh, the joys of summer.

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Oh, yeah, just finished lunch: a pair of grilled cheese sammiches on Arnold's Country White with sharp cheddar and thinly sliced "Jersey Devil" tomatoes. Oh, the joys of summer.

My lunch:

One thick slice of tomato on each slice of Sarcone's bread (the 'boule', or small round loaf). I toasted the bread, rubbed each slice with the cut sides of a single clove of cut garlic, then rubbed in a single anchovy fillet on each slice, then topped with the tomato slice and some coarse sea salt.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Late season black tomato blight has made an ugly apperance in Lancaster County spoiling many back yard tomato crops. As I understand it farmers have a spray for this that is not available to home users. So far, I have been able to avoid this but like others have baig vines with lots of green tomatoes that need sun to ripen them. Local officials are asking folks who get this to discard the plants so as the spores do not spread, they need live plants to live on. They are also telling people not to place these plants on their compost piles. The farmers in Lancaster County are very concerned about this.

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