By JODY BRADLEY LIPSCOMB
I am not sure there is anything better this time of year than a vine ripe tomato from your own garden. There is something special about walking outside and picking it off the vine and enjoying it. It may not be the perfect shape or the perfect color but it is something God and Mother Nature has had a hand in.
There are over 10,000 varieties of tomatoes. This includes heirlooms which usually means they have a story behind them and they require a bit more attention. My favorite is the unusually shaped, oh so tasty Cherokee Purple, and it’s not because of the name. I also love yellow tomatoes.
We did not raise Cherokee Purples when I was young. I remember Beefsteak and Better Boy. I remember picking tomatoes for my Mom and aunts to can tomato sauce. While picking tomatoes my cousins and I often had rotten tomato fights. I distinctly remember getting smacked in the face by a tomato. There is nothing much worse than a rotten tomato on your clothes and hair.
The best part about picking tomatoes was the pan of hot biscuits we had after the work was done. I still enjoy a hot biscuit with tomato. My other joy is a slice of commodity cheese and tomato on white bread. I have branched out in tomato dishes these days. I really a like a Caprese salad. That’s a fancy way of saying tomato slices, mozzarella cheese, basil and balsamic vinegar. A friend from Mile High Campground made us a tomato pie. The pie was new to me but it was delicious. Another friend sliced a tomato thick, sprinkled mozzarella and parmesan cheese on it with a basil leaf and toasted it. There is a wide variety of recipes for a wide variety of tomatoes and depending on your preferences.
Start planning now for next year. When you find a tomato you like, save the seeds. Saving the seeds and starting them yourself ensures you get the plant you want again next year. Harvesting and storing seeds is easy. Consult your local internet or the extension. The sad thing about tomatoes is the season is short and winter tomatoes are bland and tasteless. That means enjoy them now. Eat up! You have a lot to choose from!