We were visiting outside San Diego County a couple of weeks ago and stopped at a Jimbo’s Market. I was in awe of a good size bin of the most beautiful, deep red tomatoes. At first I thought I was looking at the healthiest looking big, plump cherry tomatoes. The gardener in me was already envious that my own beautiful garden produce didn’t look like these, ruby red cherry tomatoes. A kind gentlemen came up beside me with a plastic bag in hand and started sharing about what he knew about these gorgeous fruits (scientifically speaking, tomatoes are fruits!).
“Dry-Farmed Tomatoes” he tells me. As he proudly explains the process, he’s also attesting on how they’re the best tasting tomatoes he’s ever had and that they’re worth the price. Another man, comes up next to us, bag in hand and starts picking through the generous market offerings too. The second gentleman joins the convo agreeing that these were the best and that he was glad they made an appearance again in this market.
I had to have a stash of my own and picked out some hero tomatoes to try, educate myself on the process…and share these beauties on TC.
What are Dry-Farmed Tomatoes?
An ancient practice, dry farmed fruits and vegetables are not irrigated. Instead, the plants root themselves deep into rich clay soils in search of moisture from winter rains. Moderate summers along with rain and summer fog are the ideal environment for the dry farmed technique. The results of good, deep fertile soil and ideal weather conditions are plants that produce a smaller harvest of sweeter and more intense flavored fruit and vegetables.
With California in a more constant state of drought, commercial growers are starting to use this method for smaller crops of tomatoes, apples, grapes, melons and potatoes.
Restricting the plant’s water intake results in produce with less water content and a greater density of sugar and other flavors. Sound easy? It’s not (otherwise everyone would be doing it). Plants need to start off dry-farmed. Additionally, it works optimally where areas get at least 20-inches of rain and that low marine layer fog resulting in cooler summer weather and thus slowing down the evaporation.
The taste test and verdict…SOLD! A rich, robust and sweeter tomato flavor. As I only purchased a handful of these ruby gems, I’m in want of a larger sampling to try it in sauces and salsa…tomato jam anyone?
The next thing I want to know…how do I get my garden on the dry farmed method to produce lower yield, but robust flavored produce and cutting my water bill in half?!
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