There’s only two things that money can’t buy…

DSC_0033 smTrue love and home grown tomatoes—the only two things that money can’t buy, according to singer Guy Clark. I could add a few other foods to that list, but he’s definitely right about the tomatoes.

Home grown tomatoes are the only ones we’ll eat any more. Life’s too short to eat the store bought ones. I plant 6 or 7 varieties every year—a couple of new ones, and a bunch of old favourites. Each variety has different uses.

Brandywine is without a doubt, the best tasting tomato on the planet. So good that I plant it every year, even though the summers are really too short and cool for it here. For raw eating, nothing beats a Brandywine.

Delicious is almost as good as Brandywine. It’s my insurance policy; it grows better in cool weather than Brandywine does. I’m sure to get some Delicious, even if the Brandywines don’t give well, or they all get eaten by the birds (they think Brandywines are best, too, and even eat them green).

Amish Paste is robust and prolific. Unlike many other paste tomatoes, it manages well with erratic watering. Fleshy and dry, it makes great sauces.

Russian Red is my prolific, hardy workhorse tomato. It has small fruits with a fine, but not stellar flavour. Its value lies in its ability to flourish in cold weather, ripening fruits long after other varieties have succumbed to frost.

Suncherry is a lovely red cherry tomato that not only fills lunchboxes with juicy goodness, but also dehydrates well, providing us with lovely sweet/tart dried tomatoes all through winter.

Of course, the best way to enjoy a tomato is standing up in the garden, but here’s one of my favourite tomato dishes. This is straight out of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison. Make it with the best tomatoes you have, and don’t use an iron skillet or the tomatoes will taste tinny.

Tomatoes Glazed with Balsamic Vinegar

1 ½ pounds tomatoes

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 plump shallot, finely diced

salt and pepper to taste

Cut tomatoes into wedges about 1 ½ inches across at the widest point. In a skillet large enough to hold the tomatoes in a single layer, heat the butter until it foams. Add the tomatoes and sauté over high heat, turning them over several times, until their colour begins to dull, about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and shallot and shake the pan back and forth until the vinegar has reduced, leaving a dark, thick sauce. Season with salt and plenty of pepper.

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