Looking for the best tomato … sandwich

Danny Barrett, proprietor of Ten Acre GardenA summer joy of mine is feasting out on an-of-this-world tomato sandwich whose juices run down the non-lickable inside of your fingers and drip from your chin as you devour one.  This is  presuming that you started with a great tomato.  I might live in the wrong decade or the wrong place, but I am having a tough time just finding predictably the necessary first ingredient – a great tomato.  When I was growing up, a great tomato was always to be found.

I asked my native Haywood County tomato authority Danny Barrett at Ten Acre Garden about great tomatoes and his experiences were as mine.   We agreed on all points.

If you are expecting to find a tasty tomato in a supermarket any season? … forget it.  They are all picked green

If you are expecting an advertised “vine-ripened” tomato out-of-season to taste good? … forget it.  They are picked green, too.

And those perfect looking tomatoes at grocers that still have a green stem on them (advertised also as organically grown) to taste good? … don’t bother.  They were picked and shipped green, too.

“For a tomato to taste good, it’s sugar content needs to be high enough to give it its taste – just like apples”, Danny says. “It is the sugar that  gives tomatoes its taste; and the the longer they are on the vine, the greater the sugar content.”  I am completely satisfied with his explanantion.

He steered me to an “heirloom” (old variety) which are getting a lot of press these days and for the few that I have tried, most are not great.  Their downside is that they do not keep very long so they do not lend themselves to shipping and display on the grocery shelf.  Danny nods towards his “Cherokee Purples” (great tomato), “if those aren’t gone in a couple of days, I will have to dump them out back.”

And the other ingredients for a good tomato sandwich? … “lite bread” and a thin spread (not too heavy) of mayonaise on both pieces.  Salt and pepper, if you will, to taste.  Yummy, I am headed for the kitchen!

… but I am still looking for that great tomato.


Winston-Salem Journal Annual Tomato Tasting Contest – a listing of good tomatoes


A pocket list to consider: Brandywine, Aunt Ruby’s German Green, Black Sea Man, Amazon Chocolate, Akers West Virginia,  Sungold, Cherokee Purple

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