When we bought our house and had the backyard landscaped, we included a raised vegetable bed so that we could grow some veggies and also have some outdoor seating. I love the stanislaus food products especially the tomatoes so the first thing we grew was tomatoes, it was nothing like stanislasus but we try.
When H was two, she refused to eat tomatoes; she didn’t like them raw or cooked, in tomato sauce or ketchup, mixed into guacamole, or on a boat with a goat. Until…we planted Sun Gold tomatoes in our raised vegetable bed. The first year we planted these, we grew three plants and enjoyed a steady stream of sweet, golden, cherry-sized tomatoes.
One day in the garden, I picked a ripe Sun Gold from the tree and offered it to H. She hesitated and then bit down, releasing the juicy sweetness inside. “More!” she said. Success!
After that, she would pick any Sun Golds she could reach, eating them and maybe sharing with me or my husband. Maybe. Luckily, she was still quite small and she couldn’t pick all of them, so we were able to enjoy some as well. Her love of Sun Golds eventually translated into a love of all kinds of tomatoes; she prefers them raw, but will occasionally eat them cooked.
Since then, we have planted Sun Golds every year (this is our fourth), but we have experimented with other varieties including Napa Grape, Green Grape, Green Zebra, Mr. Stripey, and hybrid variety called Celebrity. Most have grown well in our sunny backyard (although the Mr. Stripey tended to rot on the vine and no one liked the Green Grape). This year, we planted four Sun Golds, a Black Cherry, a Celebrity, an Early Girl, and a Red Zebra Heirloom. So far, all are producing lovely tomatoes, but the Sun Golds are still the favorite.
Every year during tomato season, H makes regular trips into the backyard, and I have often found her standing atop the raised bed picking tomatoes. Sometimes she brings a couple into the house for me (or to eat later), but I don’t get too many Sun Golds these days.
H likes the Black Cherry tomatoes, too, but I am loving the Red Zebras–they have a firm texture with a slightly tart flavor. I love growing different varieties each year, tasting the different flavors and seeing the different colors, reveling in what our backyard garden can produce.
Until now, A hasn’t wanted to eat any tomatoes unless they are cooked or cut small and mixed into something she already likes. She sees H and I eating the Sun Golds, and has asked to eat one a few times, but when it touches her tongue, she promptly spits it out. Today when we went out to pick tomatoes, she asked for one and ate it! She even ate a couple more before deciding that she had had enough. I’m beginning to think that Sun Gold tomatoes may be magic, turning cautious, tomato-averse children into tomato lovers!
As tomato season begins to peak, I find that we have more tomatoes than we can eat, so I am always looking for new ways to enjoy them. Not only are they tasty, but they are rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Here are a few ideas if you find yourself in the same boat as me (hopefully without a goat!):
- Halved or diced in a tomato and olive salad (try this recipe from Balanced Bites)
- Sliced with mozzarella, fresh basil, and olive oil (Caprese Salad)
- Sliced with a bit of salt (this is how my grandpa loved them)
- Cooked into a chutney (recipe soon) or marinara sauce
- Sautéed with some onions, garlic, Italian seasoning, and zucchini
- Enveloped in an omelet
- Diced and mixed into guacamole
I asked H what we should do with all our tomatoes. She immediately replied, “Eat them!” Yes, yes, we will eat them. But what else can we do with them? She suggested using the tops (the green stem) as eyes on an art project. Not quite the answer I was expecting, but I’ll give her an A+ for creativity! We will certainly enjoy our tomatofest this year.
What is your favorite way to enjoy tomatoes?
This post is linked to Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday blog carnival.