Tomato tips

melva02(z7 VA)July 30, 2006

I have two tomato questions, maybe I should go to the tomato forum but I know you guys know the answers.

1. How do you manage canning when all your tomatoes aren't ripe at the same time? I want to buy a bushel but since it would be pre-boxed, some would probably be less ripe. Can I blanch & freeze whichever are ripe that day until they're all ready?

2. What is a good price for a bushel of tomatoes? My place has tomatoes for $.99/lb which is about the best you'll see in VA, and they'll sell me a 1/2 bushel for $7, which would be a good deal, maybe 12 pounds to a 1/2 bushel I think.


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gardenlad(6b KY)

Melissa, first off it depends on where you are buying them.

If you're buying them from a commercial farmstand or other locale that itself buys them wholesale, then _none_ of them will be ripe. Commercial tomatoes are picked when green, held in cold storage, and then gassed to make them change color. But they never actually ripen (one of the reasons store-bought rarely have any taste).

If you're buying them from a farmer's market or farmstand where they have to grow their own (not always true, so better ask), then they should all be ripe. Vendors at those places hand-pick produce, and only bring ripe veggies to market.

Seven bucks for a half bushel is a pretty good deal. I'd snap it up.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 11:12AM
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melva02(z7 VA)

Well, this is a farm stand that gets produce daily from farmers in the immediate vicinity & has no warehouse. They are all red, but some have a bit of green at the stem end, so when I bought yesterday, I looked for the ripest ones where the skin felt like it could almost be peeled off without blanching. I'll get a box or two next weekend and try canning them all.

Thanks for the advice GL! I've bought grocery-store tomatoes maybe twice in the past few years. I usually use commercial canned tomatoes in the winter, but this year I hope to can enough to get through most of the year. I was excited to see my friend's dad's produce company warehouse last weekend, but disappointed to see a big ethylene gassing oven. I was in Birmingham for my friend's wedding, and the floral arrangements were full of two-foot heads of romaine and celery, artichokes tucked in along the mantle and pineapples strewn in front of the fireplace. Her dad made a list of all the yellow & green produce & the florist did an amazing job. There were even herbs in the bouquets, which made the bride's dressing room smell delicious. And the tables had yellow pear tomatoes laying around the vases, a delicious snack at the next-day brunch.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 11:24AM
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$7.00 is not bad for a half bushel basket. Should be a better deal buying a bushel. Maybe $12.00 or less. Not too bad, even for a pick your own place. The boxes you buy in the store are not the same as a farm bushel basket. The boxed tomatoes that are shipped to supermarkets are 25 lbs. or 2/5 of a farm bushel. That makes your half bushel basket of tomatoes more than 25 lbs. not the 12 lbs you suggest. I help my nephew at the local farmer's market. However, he wholesales most of his vegetables.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 12:01PM
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I forgot to add. We pack in 2/5 bushel boxes at 25lbs.each for shipping and bushel baskets, half bushels and 8 quart baskets for the farmers market.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 12:14PM
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jimrbto(Sunset Z11 CA)

Don't freeze any of them----it turns them to mush when they thaw. O.K. for use in a sauce though.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 3:42PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Just answered the same question a few days ago.. Please see the other post. As to holding them over, they can be left out to ripen further, but careful monitoring is needed. Refrigeration is fine, as they will all be cooked anyway, so they don't usually lose much flavor. If you have the space, there is nothing like your own home grown tomatoes. You can also choose the kind of tomato you want to grow. Most places that sell tomatoes have those hard baseball types that have little real taste for anyone who has ever tasted a home grown tomato.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 3:57PM
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melva02(z7 VA)

Thanks for the info Shirley, I will go for it. They don't sell bushels. My 12-lb guess was based on the weight of a paper bag full and the size of a peck box full of rings I keep in the basement, so 25 pounds for $7 is an amazing deal! Hopefully they'll all be ready to can when I buy them, but with 25 pounds doing two rounds might be good for my sanity. And in case I didn't say, these are the real deal "Hanover tomatoes" grown in Hanover county, VA. Not like Jersey beefsteaks but definitely delicious. Thanks all.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 8:24PM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

Melissa, some varieties---particularly heirlooms---keep their green shoulders even when ripe. Cherokee Purple is the most well known for this, but many others do to.

So it's quite possible that that little bit of green you see at the stem end is meaningless.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 8:32PM
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