Forager Finds: Tomato Talk

There’s something truly special about the first tomatoes of the season.

Having bought and tasted tomatoes from all over the state of Rhode Island and Connecticut over the last five seasons, I’ve come to know them by sight, smell, feel and of course taste! Although tomatoes change slightly throughout the season, the first ripe ones off the vine are something to behold. The first sunkist cherry tomatoes from Schartner Farms are sweet and plump. The San Marzanos from Our Kids Farm are perfect for jarring and canning (if they last that long). Then there are the beautiful tomatoes from Hillandale Farm – come summer, every chef and cook in Westerly scrambles to be the first to get their hands on some of Max and Uli’s tomatoes. (Ocean House was the first this year!)

…the colors and essence of a
New England Summer

In today’s on-demand, free trade, global economy, we have access to tomatoes and other seasonal produce year round, but it simply can’t compare to the local treasures found all around us.

A single bite of a local tomato speaks for itself; having been carefully watched over and cared for through the wet spring days, the cold nights and the occasional unexpected frost, the taste tells all. The things we don’t see – how the farmer fretted over the infant plants whose leaves started to yellow, the difficult decision of whether to give the teenage, wilting plant more water, or to let its roots dig deeper for moist soil – these are the details that make local produce truly special, and how the local, independent, New England farmers nurture these seasonal plants into being. These are the smells and the flavors we look forward to every summer. These are the local tomatoes you can’t buy in the grocery store or order on Amazon. These tomatoes are the colors and essence of a New England summer.