Expanding your sauce making beyond the San Marzano/ Roma Types
I will be the first to admit that the San Marzano and Roma Type Tomatoes make a terrific sauce. I have many friends who perform the yearly ritual of buying 20 or so boxes of the red beauties either at a local specialty supermarket or from us at our farm. They usually turn it into a family event and jar away.
But, as growers of up to 24 types of tomatoes – hybrids, heirlooms, cherries and artisans, we have found that they all can be turned into wonderful sauces.
Over the years we have experimented with straight and combination heirloom, jersey and cherry sauces. All with their own distinct flavors and textures. We have even experimented with various blends. For example we will start with Red Brandywine Heirlooms and by adding Orange Valencias we can cut the acidity and add a creamy texture to the sauce. Sometimes we will prepare an heirloom blend by combining Brandywines, Mortgage Lifters, Stripped German and Cherokee Purples and end up with the most flavorful sauce I have ever tasted.
Granted, most times these tomato varieties are not available at supermarkets, however they can be purchased at some specialty farm stands and farmers markets. As for our experience, many of our farm customers have tried making the heirloom sauces from our tomatoes and all have been pleasantly surprised by the result. Also, for those of you who garden, add a few heirloom tomato varieties to your bounty.
So this season or next plan a few sauces around these other varieties of tomatoes and enjoy the different flavors and textures. You will not be disappointed!
Our favorite recipe
We post many pictures of our zucchini blossoms on Facebook, etc. Along with all the positive feedback we get about them, many people ask us to post a recipe on how to prepare them.
The recipe we use at home and has been handed down to us is a simple but very tasty one. It works well with both just the blossom (male flower) or the blossoms with courgette attached (female flower).
The recipe is as follows:
Fresh picked blossoms, eggs, bread crumbs, seasoning, olive oil.
Remove the stamen in the flower if you desire or you can just leave it. Soak the blossoms in a prepared egg wash. We like to add a little cream to the egg wash. Then coat the blossoms with bread crumbs. We season the bread crumbs with a little basil, parsley and oregano salt and pepper. Sometimes we add a little grated parmesan cheese to the crumbs. Heat a pan with about a cup of olive oil and fry on both sides until golden brown.
That’s all there is to it. Once you have tried them this way you can experiment with variations such as using Panko instead of breadcrumbs. Or stuffing them with fresh mozzarella.
The variations are endless. One restaurant we supply them with stuffs the blossoms with gorganzola cheese and figs.
So there you have it. Now all you have to do is get some from Bracco Farms and your ready to go!
The seeds we ordered last month have now arrived. Now comes the task of field cleanup and prep. Lifting last year’s plastic mulch, Mowing last year’s weeds, disking and laying new plastic. All this needs to be accomplished in the next month. Our onion seedlings, seed potatoes and new strawberry plants will be here by the end of April and we will have to be ready for them. As we do every year, we will be having our neighbor Steve Bogdanski of Bogdanski Greenhouses start all our tomatoes, eggplant and peppers from the seed we will provide him. The sets will be delivered back to us the end of May and all the new plastic mulch will have to ready and waiting.
This is repeated every year. We become part of the rhythm or a cycle of life and death if you will. I think we are fortunate to experience this. It gives us a greater understanding of this cycle and how much of it has been broken since the advent of industrialization.
As I state in many of my farm talks, before the industrial revolution, the city and the country both shared in this cycle because both their livelihoods depended on it. City folks provided the necessary goods to the country folks and country folks provided food for the city. Both understood the same rhythm. But with the advent of industrialization and the great migrations to the city, that rhythm is now broken. That is why so many city folk long for the country, or the Farmers Market or even visiting a farm. They are looking for a distant collective memory. I see this in all the faces at my Library and Garden Club Talks, people looking to return to or be a part of this memory, even if only for one day. Come visit us this season if you can and enjoy the farm even if its only for an hour or a day.
As we head into the middle of February our thoughts turn to farm prep for the Spring planting season. As soon as we have some thaw we will begin field cleanup and prep. We are also pouring through our seed catalogs and planning our Spring planting.
We will keep you posted on our progress.