Why We’re so Giddy Over Late Summer Tomatoes

Fresh summer cherry tomatoes on the vine

By Eileen O’Toole | Updated April 1, 2023

I get a little giddy in late summer when tomatoes take over my favorite farmers market. Giddy because it seems like they take forever to show up in my northern climate and giddy because I have big plans for them in the kitchen.

The reason I’m so excited is because I know other tomatoes can’t compete with a vine ripened, organically grown, freshly picked tomato. I’m giddy because I know once they’re gone from the farmers market that I will go months without a fresh tomato.

There are so many things you can do with tomatoes when they finally brighten up and are ready to be picked. I buy heirlooms for salads, traditional tomatoes for hamburgers, and Romas for canning.

I love the colors and shapes of heirloom tomatoes and there is something about their depth and variety of flavor that surpasses all other tomatoes. These same attributes make them perfect for tomato focused salads.

Traditional tomatoes like Early Girl or Beefsteak fit perfectly on a hamburger bun, and their sweet juice adds moisture and additional flavor to the burger. Romas are perfect for canning because they’re not too seedy or juicy but have a firm flesh and strong tomato flavor that holds up to heat.

During the last few weeks of summer, Cherry tomatoes of all shapes, sizes, and colors adorn every plate that lands on my dinner table. Whether round or pear shaped, yellow, red, and green Cherry tomatoes play parsley’s traditional role as garnish; except, unlike parsley, the tomatoes are devoured with their tiny pops of flavor finishing the meal.

Come October, when tomatoes disappear again from the market for months on end, I have had my fill.

I am almost sick of them until the snow flies, and my canned tomatoes come out of the cold cellar and transform lasagna, pot roast, and tomato soup into memories that conjure late summer tomato season.

Here are a few of my favorite fresh summer tomato recipes:

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