Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Return of The Jersey Tomatoes

Jersey tomatoes season is finally here! To celebrate the arrival of summer tomatoes we would to like to return to the eternal question - is there such thing as a Jersey tomato? Jim asked a Rutgers extension scientist by the name of Jack Rabin. This conversation is recorded in Locavore Adventures.
“he [Jack] opened our conversation with a shocker.
“You know,” he said, “there’s no such variety as ‘The New Jersey Tomato.’”
Now, as a chef and restaurant owner who really pays attention to what I put on my table and serve to my guests, that news bowled me over. I thought ”New Jersey Tomato” (or Jersey Tomato, for short), was its own variety, born and bred. But Jack said the name actually has been trademarked by a southern New Jersey farm to refer to its own crop.
On the other hand, when you hear the name “Rutgers Tomato,” that’s the real deal. It’s an actual variety of tomato which was developed in 1934 to enhance specific properties. The Rutgers Tomato has earned its place in history...It became a worldwide bestseller - one of the most celebrated tomatoes known not just for its canning properties but for its wonderful eating flavor. ”

And there’s more:  The Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (RNJAES) has rediscovered  the old portfolio of red round tomato varieties that were grown in the early 20th century and named Jersey Tomatoes. These tomatoes were known for their outstanding flavor and hence earned the Jersey Tomato claim to fame. The extension had been working on bringing some of these varieties back for home gardeners and local farm markets. Seeds of the much loved Ramapo and an early season companion Moreton were reintroduced to the market last summer through the Rediscover the Jersey Tomato project. More old time Jersey Tomato variety seed offerings will be added in the next few years.

Read more about the New Jersey tomatoes in Locavore adventure.

Zuppa di Mozzarella
4 1 oz. pieces fresh made mozzarella
2 pounds fresh tomatoes peeled and seeded (Jersey of course)
3 cloves garlic sliced thin
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil ½ cup olive oil

Heat two thirds of the olive oil in a large sauce pan. Add the sliced garlic and cook slowly until lightly browned. Add the crushed red pepper and the tomatoes. Let the sauce cook until it begins to thicken. Season with the parsley, basil and salt. The consistency should be somewhere between soup and sauce
Place one piece of mozzarella in each serving bowl and pour the hot sauce over it. Drizzle with
the remaining olive oil and serve immediately.

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