July is high season for fresh tomatoes. Enjoy them in a sandwich or salad, but try these three tomato products that preserve the fresh taste of tomatoes for use all year round.
Homemade Salsa and Stewed Tomatoes
Judy Simmons, known to her friends and the customers at the Jonesboro Farmers Market as Jammin’ Judy, makes plenty of jams and jellies, but she also buys bushels of local tomatoes and turns them into salsa and sauces and stewed tomatoes. We tried the salsa and enjoyed the chunky texture with bits of onion, pepper and tomato. There’s no question it’s made by hand. It’s got heat from jalapeno, but not too much. The stewed tomatoes are Roma tomatoes cooked with celery, onions, green bell pepper, garlic, parsley and lemon. The sauce really tastes of sweet tomatoes so we added sweet Gulf shrimp and enjoyed ours served over grits. Find Simmons and area farmers at the Jonesboro Farmers Market.
$6 per pint jar. Available at the Jonesboro Farmers Market at the Lee Street, Park, 155 Lee Street, Jonesboro. Market is open May 12 through October 27 - Wednesdays 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon. Simmons also does limited delivery. 404-502-7196.
Roasted Garlic & Mushroom Italian Sauce
Vince Perone was a fixture in Greenville, South Carolina, opening the city’s first Italian-kosher deli in 1956. His restaurant is gone, but the family continues his legacy by selling his Basil Marinara and Roasted Garlic and Mushroom sauces in generous 25-ounce jars. We tried the garlic-mushroom flavor and were totally blown away by the fresh flavor. Recognizable (and delicious) chunks of mushroom dot the rich sauce of tomatoes, carrots and Vidalia onion. Roasted garlic adds a nice rounded flavor. Perfect right out of the jar, we’d be proud to claim this as our own. But we’ll let the Perones have the credit.
$9.95 per 25-ounce jar. Available online at peroneskitchen.com.
When I say tomatoes are for drinking, you’re probably thinking “tomato juice,” but we’re in love with tomato shrub. Especially this one from Audra Lawlor of Girl Meets Dirt in Washington State’s gorgeous San Juan Islands. Shrubs are drinking vinegars - a mixture of fruit, a little sugar and vinegar - and of course, tomatoes are a fruit. If you hadn’t been told this shrub was tomato, you might have been a little puzzled over the flavor. A little tart, a little sweet, more complex than just a straight up berry or stone fruit vinegar, definitely delicious. We think it’s totally refreshing mixed with sparkling water but we hear it makes a great Bloody Mary or a sub for the vermouth in a Manhattan. Or use it as the vinegar in your favorite vinaigrette recipe and drizzle over some of summer’s gorgeous ripe tomatoes. Now you have the best possible combination of fresh and preserved tomatoes. (Girl Meets Dirt also makes rhubarb, quince and other shrubs as well as spreadable and cutting preserves. All from produce grown on the islands. All worthy of your consideration.)
$16 per 375-ml bottle. Available online at girlmeetsdirt.com/shop/tomato-shrub. Shipping is free for orders over $96 with SHIPFREE code. Flat rate shipping of $10 for orders under $96.