Everglades Cherry Tomatoes
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This item was last sold on : 03/31/23
Everglades tomatoes are small fruits, averaging only 1 to 2 centimeters in diameter and 1 to 2 ounces in weight, and have a round and mostly uniform shape. The tomato's skin is smooth, taut, glossy, and tender, with the tendency to split when ripe or pulled from the vine. Underneath the surface, Everglades tomatoes feature a somewhat thin, succulent flesh encasing two aqueous chambers filled with sweet pulp and supple seeds. When squeezed, the tomatoes have a slight give and contribute a crisp, tender, popping sensation when bitten. Everglades tomatoes have an intense grassy and vegetal aroma and a deeply complex flavor with earthy, savory, and grassy undertones. The tomato's overall flavor features a well-balanced, sweet-tart taste with a slightly salty finish.
Everglades tomatoes are available year-round, with a peak season in the late summer.
Everglades tomatoes are small red fruits belonging to the Solanaceae or nightshade family, botanically classified as Solanum pimpinellefium. Everglades tomatoes are an independent tomato variety, separate from the common garden tomato, botanically classified as Lycopersicon esculentum. However, they will readily hybridize with other tomato varieties and have been used to create many different varieties with hardier and more flavorful characteristics. The plant is vigorous and indeterminate, growing bushy initially before developing long, sprawling vines that can be left as a ground cover or trellised to add height. The plants have small, delicate leaves with a more acrid odor than other varieties, and the stems are petite and lanky. The tomatoes grow in clusters of 6 to 10 small fruits and are very tender, often splitting open when separated from their pedicel. Due to their delicate nature, the entire vine and cluster are harvested together, and the tomatoes are left attached to their vine and pedicel until they are used. Everglades tomatoes are prolific throughout Florida but can also be found growing in other parts of the world. Outside of Florida, the tomatoes are more commonly known as Currant tomatoes. They may also be known as Wild tomatoes and Spoon tomatoes. Everglades tomatoes are one of the only tomato varieties known to withstand the hot, humid weather of Southern Florida and the Florida Keys. Once planted, the vining plant is known to overtake garden beds and self-seed year after year, growing more like a weed in the region than a cultivated crop.
Everglades tomatoes are a significant source of vitamin C, an essential nutrient and antioxidant that helps protect the body from the damage caused by free radicals and aids in iron absorption. The tomatoes also contain high levels of lycopene, a red pigment that promotes heart health, offers protection against sun damage, and aids in protecting the eyes from macular degeneration that may lead to cataracts. Everglades tomatoes are also known to contain many trace vitamins and minerals such as folate, potassium, and vitamin K.
Everglades tomatoes have a sweet flavor with balanced acidity and a crispy, succulent texture that makes them ideal for fresh applications. The tomatoes should be carefully separated from the vine and pedicel and can be consumed straight out of hand. They can be used whole or halved, added to green salads, pasta, and grain salads, or served with crudité. Combine the tomatoes with small mozzarella cheese balls, fresh basil, and balsamic drizzle to make a caprese skewer, or mix them with garlic, balsamic vinegar, and basil and serve on a toasted baguette as bruschetta. The tomatoes can be added to cooked pasta and grain dishes at the last minute for a burst of fresh tomato flavor, or they can be roasted or broiled for added depth of flavor. The tomatoes can be sundried to add dimension to their flavor or preserved as tomato jam. The small tomatoes are often cooked down into a sauce that can be served with pasta or used to make soup, stews, and casseroles. Everglades tomatoes can be used in any recipe that calls for cherry tomatoes and complements the earthy flavor of wild rice, quinoa, and farro. Everglades tomatoes pair well with fresh herbs such as oregano, thyme, basil, and parsley, cheeses including mozzarella, burrata, feta, asiago, and parmesan, spring and summer vegetables including zucchini, asparagus, cucumbers, eggplant, peas, corn, and spinach, meats including poultry, seafood, beef, and pork, and aromatics such as onions, garlic, and shallots. The flavor of the tomatoes can be enhanced by sauces featuring lemon juice, olive oil, balsamic and red wine vinegar, and white pepper. Everglades tomatoes should be left connected to their vine or pedicel until they are ready to be used, and then they should be gently separated to prevent splitting or tearing of the skin. Everglades tomatoes will keep for 1 to 2 weeks when stored at room temperature away from direct sunlight.
Everglades tomatoes are incredibly popular in Southern Florida and the Florida Keys. This small and intensely flavored tomato grows wild in the Everglades and is considered native to the region by those who live there. However, the actual origin of the tomato can be traced to the coastal areas of Peru of Ecuador. How the prolific tomatoes found their way to Florida is somewhat mysterious. Some believe birds and other migratory animals dropped the seeds, while others tell a tale of seeds being spread by Spanish explorers into the Caribbean and eventually the Keys and other parts of Florida. Either way, the robust tomatoes are beloved in the region, and clusters of the small fruits can be found growing in many home gardens and along roadsides and hiking trails. Their fame comes from the plant's ability to adapt to the region's hot and muggy summer climate. While other tomato varieties only grow during the winter in this tropical region, Everglades tomatoes grow year-round and fruit continuously and with vigor. The plants will self-seed and can take over gardens, walkways, and any other area where the seeds may be dropped. The tiny but highly flavorful tomatoes have come to represent the vigor of Southern Florida and the people who reside there, adapting to thrive in the humid summer heat.
Everglades tomatoes are believed to be the closest descendent to the wild tomatoes native to the coastal areas of Peru and Ecuador. The tomatoes are prehistoric, with evidence showing the variety split from wild tomatoes over one million years ago. The seeds of the plant were likely spread north by indigenous peoples as well as migrating animals and birds. French explorers were introduced to the wild tomatoes in South America in the early 18th century. They brought the seeds back to Europe, where they became known as Currant tomatoes due to their resemblance to the small red berries found in Europe. It is unknown how the plants arrived in Florida, but the vining plants quickly naturalized and flourished in the hot and humid summers of the region. Everglades tomatoes are considered a wild variety in Florida, but they can also be grown in any climate conducive to garden tomatoes. The tomatoes are not grown on a large commercial scale due to their delicate nature, but they can be found at farmer's markets or from specialty growers in Florida and California.