What We Raise, When It's Ripe
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For many people, summer doesn't really begin until the tomatoes are ripe. In our northern climate, that sometimes requires a bit of patience, because it takes heat and time to produce really good, tasty, vine ripe tomatoes. But the wait is worthwhile.
In addition to "standard" round red tomatoes, we raise round yellow tomatoes, several kinds of cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, plum tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, pink tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, paste or roma type tomatoes, and of course, green tomatoes.
For more than 30 years we have been selecting tomato varieties that taste good. Many varieties of tomatoes look really good. For us to raise it, it must also taste good.
We often plant several new varieties to find out which ones our customers like. Some people want one kind, others prefer another. So we add both to what we raise. (The ones no one really likes are not planted again.) Many iterations of this kind of selection over three decades has led to a wide selection of delicious tomatoes for you to pick.
Some time in July, our tomatoes begin to ripen. At first there are only a few, a pound or two or five for each customer. As the season progresses, more tomatoes ripen each day. By some time in mid to late August, the tomatoes ripen faster than our customers pick them. Only when the supply reaches this point do we lower the price to invite people to take large quantities for canning, freezing, tomato juice, making salsa or other forms of processing. Quality, quantity and price are almost always the best during the first two weeks in September. The tomato season ends with the first killing frost of the year. Because our tomatoes grow high on a hilltop where early frosts may not reach, our tomatoes sometimes survive longer than others in the area. Check Today at The Tree Farm or call 608 798 2286 for current information.
If there is anything that is easy to sell on a pick your own basis, it's tomatoes. Everyone knows how to select and pick them. Tomatoes are relatively heavy. Tomato pickers can save quite a lot of effort by walking into the field with an empty container and picking toward their car.
Uses for tomatoes. Why so many kinds of tomatoes? Are they really different? Are some tomatoes better than others? Are some tomatoes better suited to particular uses than others? The real answers to all these questions come down to personal tastes and preferences. Many people, including a majority of our customers, seem to prefer different kinds of tomatoes for different uses.
The standard red tomato is very versatile, and used by people from most cultures. It can be cooked, juiced, eaten whole, sliced, diced or whatever. It is the standard to which all other tomatoes are compared. A good red tomato should be flavorful, meaty and juicy.
Pink tomatoes are a little sweeter than standard red tomatoes, very juicy and wonderfully suited for eating fresh. Some people prize them for their tender skins. Pink tomatoes are our favorites for salads and sandwiches. Karen prefers them for making soup because of their flavor and because they are so juicy.
Yellow tomatoes are said to be less acidic than red tomatoes. Some people prefer yellow tomatoes for use both fresh and cooked, in part because the unusual color adds variety.
Small, smaller and smallest: The cherry tomatoes that we raise are particularly sweet and flavorful when picked fully ripe. (Some of these tomatoes crack easily when fully ripe. This creates a dilemma for customers. To get peak flavor, one has to accept the risk of some loss due to cracking. For many, however this is not a serious problem. The cherry tomatoes taste so good that they all disappear during the ride home). Grape tomatoes are very small and sweet. Some people take the time to pick individual vine-ripe fruit with optimum flavor. Others prefer to pick the entire cluster. The small plum tomatoes are somewhat less sweet, but much less likely to crack, even when picked fully ripe. The little yellow pear tomatoes have more of a standard tomato flavor and don't crack.
Paste or Roma type tomatoes have been bred and selected for good cooked flavor and high solids content. They are the standard type for commercial production of tomato products for which excess juice is not an asset, such as tomato paste, ketchup and salsa. Some of our customers prefer them for making spaghetti sauce (if you like it thick), tomato paste, and salsa. They are our personal choice for salsa.
The Tree Farm
The Pick Your Own Vegetables Place
Cut your own Christmas Trees on December Weekends
In Northwestern Dane County, Wisconsin, serving Madison and the surrounding area
8454 Highway 19
Cross Plains, WI 53528
Updated June 10, 2004
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