Thursday, August 18, 2011

Value Added

Organically grown fruits and veggies often don't turn out looking as picture-perfect as they do at the grocery store.

What's a small scale food grower supposed to do when their crop turns out as fugly as this not-quite-ripe tomato we grew at the Boone Street Garden?

The answer requires a lot more labor and time, but in the end you will have an even better product.

Many of our cherry tomatoes split open a tiny bit due to the heavy rain last week, and many of our heirloom tomatoes developed deep cracks as shown in the tomato above. Definitely not appetizing to the average consumer. And in the case of the broken tomatoes, we had a product that was going to go rotten very fast.

But when you're a small-scale grower, every little bit counts. You've just got be inventive.

One of the best ways to turn that not so pretty produce into profit is through food preservation. This is otherwise know as making a value-added product. Or as I prefer: "selling the sizzle, not the steak."

All of those busted tomatoes got cleaned, the bad bits were chopped off, and I simmered and simmered the tomatoes for hours to create the delicious tomato paste you see in the top photo. It tastes just like sun-dried tomatoes!

If you'd like to try this tomato jam, come visit us at the Charles Street farmer's market tomorrow (Friday the 19th), right near Velocipede and the Charles Theater.

We'll be spreading the tomato jam with homemade hummus on baguettes I'm baking tomorrow a.m. so they will be fresh.

Some of the other tomatoes were pretty good looking, but pretty much everyone is up to their ears in tomatoes these days and we wanted to make a special product. So we made a lovely summer salsa!

This salsa is chock-full of Boone Street tomatoes, cucumbers, banana peppers, chili pepper, yellow squash, basil, and a few nectarines from Reid's Orchard thrown in for good measure.

We'll be selling chips from Baltimore's famed Tortilleria Sinaloa served with this salsa.

That's not all! We also have the following available for sale:

- okra pickles
- cherry and large tomatoes
- yellow squash and zucchini
- banana peppers

If you would like any of our produce or are interested in purchasing the baguette + hummus + tomato jam or chips + salsa if there is some available after the market, please email your contact information to and I will add you to our list of people interested in purchasing Boone Street Garden produce and food.

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