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Aug 30, 2010 12:07 PM

looking for flats of tomatoes

Venturing into canning before the end of tomato season, and wondering if any of you 'hounds could give tips about buying flats of tomatoes directly from a farm. I don't belong to a CSA but am wondering if any of you who do know if the farms sell to outside people?


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  1. You can buy a flat at the farmers' market, but I'd scout around first and see where the best tomatoes are. This has been a pretty bad tomato season (I haven't had a great one yet, has anyone else?) so it's worth looking around. You can also get on Mariquita Farms' email list for their ladybug buying club, though you need to be able to pick up in SF.

    1. I second the Mariquita Farm suggestion. they offer san marzano's for canning through their buying club but haven't this year yet due to the lack of heat but they should be coming soon I'd imagine.
      NOTE: I just checked their website for the ladybug buying club and the last update shows "late August as well as Sept. at $28 for 20#.

      You can also try finding dry farmed early girls at various farmers markets. they are great for canning as well.

      Mariquita Farm CSA
      142 Linden Rd, Watsonville, CA

      1. You might consider an alternative this some canned tomatoes. We have been using S&W Stewed tomatoes from Costco for several years. They are superb solid pieces, not mush. I'm hoping to get a good crop this fall, but it doesn't look good.

        2 Replies
        1. re: OldTimer

          I've been buying Muir Glen tomatoes on sale...probably not as good a deal as Costco but I think I paid $2 for 28oz can. Sure beats the inconsistent fresh ones. Any way, a lot of the fruit has sucked his year due to the weather.

          1. re: OldTimer

            Ditto on this. I haven't seen any tomatoes this year that I would want to buy by the flat. They're all smaller than fist size, even the most expensive ones. None of those grapefruit-sized monsters that were so wonderful last year.

          2. The Dirty Dog Farm folks who are usually at the Wednesday, SF Civic Center and sometimes at the SF Alemany FM on Saturdays said they'd have their organic dry farmed Early Girls available in September for about $25/box. The more presentable ones, are more costly of course.

            Artemis informed me that a vendor at the Belmont FM had organic San Marzanos by the box, if memory serves. Most tomato vendors will sell you a case. Need to try them too.

            If you're going for sauce, or canned tomatoes, you want less moisture for more robust taste. Each fall, I can enough tomato sauce to fill a dresser to last till next year.

            4214 Park Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94602

            1. At the end of the markets, the vendors generally sell off at a lower price. You may be trading price for condition (firm v soft), but since you plan on cooking them, that should not be a factor. Most tomatoes unsold at the farmer's markets will not last for resale and are often mulched. Both sides win, you get a better price and the vendors don't have to pack up.