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Farmers’ Market Report: Winter Tomatoes

Summer tomatoes have a wonderful flavor all their own, but there are many delicious winter tomatoes at farmers’ stands to satisfy your every tomato craving. How can a winter tomato be any good, you may ask yourself? In winter, due to short days and less sunlight, the tomato is growing slower and takes longer to ripen and develop flavor. Since they are staying on the plant for a longer amount of time, this allows the sugars and solids to concentrate, resulting in more flavor.

Scott Beylik of Beylik Farms in Fillmore grows six varieties of tomatoes that are all available during the winter months. Beylik Farms was started in 1972 by Scott’s father and grandfather. They grow indoor hydroponic vegetables and sell exclusively at Farmers’ Markets, including the Santa Monica Wednesday and Downtown Saturday markets. The tomatoes root in a coconut core with drip nutrients, and Beylik Farms use no pesticides or sprays. Beylik instructs to never refrigerate tomatoes because it causes the enzymes and cell walls to breakdown resulting in a mealy tomato.

Beylik’s Premium tomato is a classic beefsteak tomato. It has a refined flavor and is milder and juicier than a Big Beef tomato and is excellent for slicing. The Big Beef is a traditional beefsteak tomato. It is a firm tomato with fewer seeds, a strong flavor and is perfect for sandwiches and burgers. The Yellow tomato has a yellow/orange flavor, is very juicy and tastes like an extra large cherry tomato. It is low-acid, so even people who should avoid tomatoes for health reasons can still enjoy it. The Plum tomato is a classic Roma tomato with more flavor than a conventionally grown Roma. It is not as dry as a conventionally grown Roma. The Plum is a less juicy tomato and is perfect for salads, salsa, bruschetta and sauces. The Japanese tomato is a low-acid tomato. This variety of tomato comes from Japan and is not a very common tomato because it is not a high producer. Beylik’s sweetest tomato, it has a pink flesh and a translucent skin causing the tomato to appear pink. The final variety Beylik Farms offers is the vine, or cluster, tomato. This tomato keeps the longest because it is on the vine.

For more tasty winter tomatoes visit The Tomato Man at the Sunday Main Street market and Wong Farms at the Wednesday and Downtown Saturday markets. They both grow hothouse tomatoes, and Wong Farms grows green tomatoes, too. Jaime Farms at the Wednesday Market also have winter heirloom tomatoes.

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