Craving tomatoes? Not the cottony, firm, flavorless orbs that are available at your supermarket year round. And not the bright-red specimens that have been promising so much but under-delivering at the Dallas Farmers Market either.
I'm talking about heavenly tomatoes that scream vibrant, summery, fruity flavors when you bite into them -- tomatoes that leave your mouth sore because they're so acidic and you're compelled to eat more and more of them.
This quirky spring weather is giving us a good chance at an amazing tomato season. Heather Rinaldi works at the Texas Worm Ranch and maintains her own garden. She sent me the picture of her crop above and is clearly excited about this tomato season too.
"I think in about two weeks we'll be seeing a lot of tomatoes at the local market," Rinaldi said. "The temperatures are just perfect right now."
Tomatoes are finicky plants. When daytime temperatures cross the mid 90s, tomatoes will start to drop their flowers and when evening temperatures fail to drop into the mid-70s, flowers that have yet to set will abort.
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While spring in our area is usually a flash in the pan -- cold weather quickly yields to tomato-pummeling heat - this particular spring has held us in the comfort zone for quite some time. That means tomato plants in our region are setting a lot of fruit. As Rinaldo so deliciously puts it, "I'm going to bet this is the best tomato season we've had in a long time."
Even when things do get warmer, all the fruit that's already set will continue to ripen. This means we've got a lot of great tomatoes coming our way no matter what the temperatures do in the coming weeks. As long as the plants are getting enough water, we're good.
So it's time to start planning all those summer tomato dishes that makes this miserable season tolerable. Hey Dallas chefs! NOW is the time to slice up tomatoes for Caprese salads. Give us BLT's and gazpachos and fresh salsas and more.
But for me in my home? Nothing beats a simple tomato sandwich. Slice up a whole fruit and stack it on a massive round of sourdough slathered with an absurd amount of mayonnaise. A little salt and pepper and you're good. Such a mess you've got to eat it over the kitchen sink.