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September 3, 2010 / Dave Gorham

You Say Tomato, I Say PDO

This headline caught my attention: “Buddy, Can You Spare a Ripe Tomato?” With not enough summer heat, California tomatoes are not ripening quickly enough, causing not only tomatoes but all West Coast summer fruits to be priced at a premium. Fortunately, California doesn’t have a lock on growing tomatoes: backyards, Florida and Long Island are just as suitable for a tasty tomato crop, as are many Sun Belt states.

Tasty Ripe Tomato. Photo: Wikipedia

Growing up in New York, I’ll admit to taking the Long Island tomato for granted. A summer BLT was just that: a summer treat limited to the time of year not necessarily to the region of the world. Who knew the Hampton tomatoes just down the road were (and continue to be) world renowned? Even more so since the 1994 Seinfeld episode “The Hamptons” when George insists on a stop at a vegetable stand to pick up some Hampton tomatoes for his mother. “My mother loves Hampton tomatoes. She’s nuts for Hampton tomatoes.”

But over in California they’re beginning to think about a late September or even an October ripening because the heat just hasn’t visited the growing regions of the largest tomato-growing state in the United States. Why? The Pacific decadal oscillation, aka: The PDO. The PDO is a pattern of warmer- or cooler-than-normal surface waters in the Pacific Ocean. In this case the PDO is negative which signifies cooler than normal ocean temperatures, as opposed to a positive PDO which indicates warmer sea surface temperatures. This leads to cooler than normal air temperatures near the ocean and with an onshore flow the cooler temperatures migrate inland. Hence, the delay in the ripening of one of the most popular summer fruits.

PDO: Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Image: Wikipedia.

For September and October it looks like California will move into a more normal temperature and precipitation pattern. Will this be enough for a bountiful harvest? We’ll have to wait and see, but keep an eye on the tomato prices and hope they don’t climb any higher.

Long-range Temperature Outlook. Image: ImpactWeather.

Fruit or vegetable? Fruit!
Pronunciation? Depends. Where do you live?
Heaviest? 7lbs 12oz.
State Fruit? New Jersey and Arkansas.
Is there a national tomato month? No! (But Florida designates April as Fresh Florida Tomato Month.)

Tomato Bruschetta Recipe:

6 Roma or Plum tomatoes, chopped.

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup fresh basil, stems removed

salt and pepper to taste

The best sandwich ever? The B.L.T! Keep it simple and you can’t screw it up. You’ll find a million different recipes, but most stray from the basic five ingredients: White toast, mayonnaise, bacon, lettuce and, of course, tomatoes. Add Ruffles Potato Chips and the perfect sandwich becomes the perfect meal!

Yum! The BLT - Is there a better sandwich? Image: Wikipedia.


One Comment

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  1. Fred Rogers / Sep 3 2010 3:01 PM

    You forgot to mention the superior variant: BLT with mayo and peanut butter on whole wheat toast.

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