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Good Maryland tomatoes..

When should we expect to see the best of maryland tomatoes.. Im talking about the ones big enough for a sandwich on their own.. Ive had a few from Georgia and South Carolina.. but they just arent the same.. So i was wondering when i should start looking, and if anyone knows where the best places to get them.. I live in the Baltimore/ Glen Burnie area.. i appreciate any help.. thanks!!!

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  1. Around the beginning of August, I would expect.

    1. I'm outside of Philadelphia and we have gorgeous large tomatoes available up at the farm stand.

      However, I was attracted to this post as my dad - a director of quality control for a major food chain - used to take regular business excursions (4x / year) to a cannery in Hurlock, MD where they packed tomato products all summer. When on school vacation, he'd often take me along. The aroma of huge vats of cooking tomatoes for juice, soup, ketchup, etc. is indelible. And to go out into the fields with the production manager to watch the harvest in the sandy soil of the eastern shore and bite into one of the behemoth tomatoes was just as memorable. We'd bring home several and a favorite treat was having one chilled, thick-sliced on white bread with mayo, salt and fresh pepper. With a hunk of cold watermelon and a fresh iced tea with mint to compliment the perfect sandwich, that makes my summer.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Chefpaulo

        that is exactly how i eat my sandwich.. but i also use Season-All.. there is something about the way those tomatoes taste from that area.. and yes the tomato has to me chilled.. ive seen family members go without the bread and just season the tomato and a spoon full of mayo on each piece of tomato.. HEAVEN.. and i cant wait to find them..

        1. re: Chefpaulo

          Yum, that's exactly how I like my tomato sandwiches. You have some great memories there.

          1. re: Transplanted Texan

            Now just for a nice freshly fried soft crab a bit of iceberg lettuce and plain old white bread...Koesters maybe??? or Rice's?
            In the Glen Burnie area try Papa Johns near New Cut Rd...

            1. re: Transplanted Texan

              T' Texan: Yes I have many great memories, but they're also tempered with the "spirit of the time."
              My trips to Hurlock with dad were between 1958 and 1964. Great tomatoes but lots of uncomfortable diversity vibes. I felt them even them.
              Let us all appreciate how times have changed.

              1. re: Chefpaulo

                That's even better than Proust's memories of a madelaine

                1. re: tartuffe

                  I'll take a Maryland-grown 'mater sandwich over a poofy little French cookie any day.

                    1. re: tartuffe

                      Great thread. Totally agree on mater samwiches. They are the best. I am going to make my own mayo this year to go with mine. FWIW, my wife's garden is several weeks from producing tomatoes.

            2. re: Chefpaulo

              Chilled? To me, that is a sacrilege. I grew up in NJ where the tomatoes are terrific and we
              never refrigerated them - it dulls the taste and ruins the texture.

              1. re: ferventfoodie

                Well....so is unrefrigerated beer to the overwhelming majority on this side of the pond. Storing and serving were two different operations in my childhood home. Tomatoes were always ripened on the kitchen window sill and put into the fridge a few hours before serving. On a steamy mid-August day, nothing was more treasured than the chilled 'maters on white bread w/ mayo, iced mint tea or fresh squeezed lemonade (also chilled) and equally well-chilled watermelon. All of the aforementioned may present a different bouquet at room temperature but I'll take all of mine chilled. But, then, I also enjoy a slight chill on my reds as long as they have been decanted. To each his/her own.

                1. re: ferventfoodie

                  A lot of us in Maryland don't refrigerate tomatoes either.

              2. It sounds as if you're talking about Brandywine tomatoes. Can't speak for farmers, but the 8 Brandywine vines in my own garden (N. Potomac MD) have a few more weeks to go; they're still only the size of my fist and green. The San Marzano plum tomatoes are in various stages; some are just starting to get red. So you might be able to find some nice plum tomatoes.

                Your local farmers' market should have some now, especially Early Girl, etc.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Transplanted Texan

                  I got some beautiful, locally grown tomatoes at the Rockville farmers' market on Sat. for $2.50/lb. I got a Cherokee Purple and one I think might be a Marvel Stripe, each weighing a pound. Made the best BLT when I got home.

                  Brandywines are my favorites to grow, but I couldn't plant this year.

                2. There is a farm stand near Annapolis Mall that already has great Eastern Shore tomatoes. It is on Rt. 178 just north of the mall. Big, firm, and dark red all the way through. Corn and peaches too.

                  1. Spicknalls on Old Gunpowder Rd. Always get a case or 2 of Roma's, grill/roast them, qt. or gal. zip-locks and into the freezer. With their variety, I'm certain they'll have what you're looking for. Thick sliced Beefsteaks or heirloom, Vadalia onion, arugula, mayo, fresh ground pepper, pinch of salt (on white)...that's just pure summer...

                    1. Maryland tomatoes are usually best throughout August and the beginning of September, but everything happened a little earlier in 2012, so probably very soon you'll be seeing them at their peak. I have a lot of Richmond, VA relatives, and they all swear by their Hanover tomatoes--and they ARE maybe the best. But while I can't get Hanover tomatoes without driving for hours, I CAN get Duke's mayonnaise in MD, which I've learned (from years of eating tomato sandwiches in the Free State), is the best mayo for a tomato sandwich--because it's a different consistency and doesn't break down and separate when it reacts to the tomato juice like that Yankee favorite mayo, AND it's higher in vinegar with NO sugar, so the natural sweetness of the tomato really stands out. But, back to the tomatoes: I currently live in Southern Maryland and the ones I get from Calvert County (as well as the peaches) and the Mennonites in St. Mary's County are the best I've ever had in the state of MD, if you're ever down this way. New Jersey and the Eastern Shore (Delmarva Peninsula) also grow fantastic tomatoes, if you can get those in Balto. Sandier soil seems to be the key.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: staughton

                        Yep. Eastern shore beefsteaks are The Bomb. They're big, sweet and flat. The perfect sandwich tomato. Just slice the ends off and slap that sucker on some bread with Miracle Whip, salt and pepper. Eat and repeat.

                          1. re: ferventfoodie

                            Can y'all git that way up there in NJ? lol Duke's is not my favorite for stuff like potato salad, but it's so perfect on a tomato sandwich. I wish I could find something to put MW on, like flavrmeistr ^ , because I have a few friends who love it, but I didn't grow up with it and I can't handle it. And I completely agree with you about tomatoes & refrigerators.

                            1. re: staughton

                              No Duke's in NJ. I'm living in Maryland now, but still have a house up there and if I
                              go there in the summer I bring Duke's for the tomatoes. Don't use it for everything -
                              grew up on MW, changed to Hellman's when I got married and have been using
                              Hellman's Light more recently. Haven't been able to find Duke's light so the
                              comparison isn't really fair.

                              We shared a condo in Fla with my mother-in-law for a while and when we were
                              there together we had constant battles over the tomatoes - I wound up hiding some
                              so she didn't put them in the fridge!

                              1. re: staughton

                                I like Duke's also. Hellmann's for tater salad and tuna salad. MW for all other sandwich applications because it's a little zingier. Mostly, it comes down to habit.

                          2. Last Saturday I picked up a bunch of heirlooms at the Annapolis farmers marked (Riva and Harry S. Truman Pkwy). Great variety, grown in South Anne Arundel county. We've been in tomato heaven all weekend. Probably had a head start in a green house. They're a good couple weeks ahead of my garden which is producing tons of cherrys but full size varieties are just starting to ripen.

                            1. If you're in the northern end of Glen Burnie, stop by Vince's on B&A Blvd. They've got beautiful MD tomatoes and corn, and I think local peaches are there by now too.

                              1. I'm already picking them in my garden, they are almost always ready mid-July. This hot weather is ideal for that perfect sweet/citrusy taste.

                                Your best bet is to find a road-side stand outside of the city, imo. Farmers markets are getting too trendy and expensive for something you can grow pretty easily in your backyard.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: abroz

                                  Agreed. Or you can check out smaller farmers markets. The Severna Park market last Saturday had a vendor selling "cherries" for $2/pint while the prices at the JFX market are up to $4/pint. The cheaper tomatoes at JFX sell out lightning fast. The Woodlawn market today next to the Social Security Building had a guy selling medium-size tomates at 3 for $2 and another vendor selling huge (though greenhouse) tomatoes for just $1/each.

                                  1. re: bmorecupcake

                                    How has the Woodlawn market been this year? I went once in its inaugural season and it was... lacking. The Catonsville Wednesday market seems to have shrunk, so I'm curious about Woodlawn.

                                    1. re: guenevere51

                                      The Woodlawn market is very lacking in the modern sense. There were just three vendors last Thursday, but at least they were all farmers. Make sure you ask, though, because I know sometimes one of the vendors brings produce that is from other farms. The Breadery was there for a few weeks, but I didn't see them last week. I actually go here for specific items. Like I mentioned above, I go for affordable tomatoes. Blackberries have been spectacular in the past, but last week's were just good, not great (full of flavor but not sweet.) The donut peaches I purchased here last week were excellent. I also purchased some crisp, tart summer apples. With the smaller number of vendors, it's easier for me to keep track, too. E.g., I remembered not to purchase yellow corn from the blackberry/peach/apple vendor based on my experience last year.

                                      The Catonsville Wednesday market was very weak last year and earlier this year, but it has picked up. There's a lady from PA who grows button, portobello, and baby bella mushrooms in her garage. A flower vendor just started. A honey vendor comes every other week. The master gardener is insanely knowledgeable (also comes every other week.) Unfortunately, the maple syrup lady is missing this year. However, Deep Run Farms at the Wednesday Catonsville market is probably my favorite farm stand from all the markets. This unassuming stand doesn't have great variety, but the young man working here gets up early Wednesday morning and picks almost everything fresh. Unlike some other vendors, you can ask and he'll happily tell you what he picked that day. Sometimes, like with tomatoes, produce might not be picked that morning. But so far this year I have missed only two markets and not once did he sell something that wasn't picked that same morning.

                                      I think, in general, the smaller weekday markets have this advantage over the larger weekend markets -- the produce is fresher.

                                      1. re: bmorecupcake

                                        Thanks for the thorough report, bmorecupcake. I went to the Sunday Catonsville market yesterday and while there were a fair number of vendors, I was surprised how expensive much of the produce was. Maybe I'm wildly out of touch with produce prices this year, but I found it hard to swallow. Relating to that, almost none of the vendors had signs out indicating prices, which is a pet peeve of mine.

                                        1. re: guenevere51

                                          I know what you mean about prices. In Catonsville, the most affordable is Swamp Fox Farms at the Wednesday Market.

                                          This year, the Sunday Catonsville Market is lacking in farmers. Even though a bit pricey, "My Farm" is my favorite stand there right now (they also sell burgers and BBQ sauces.) The hardcore farmer-looking guy with the very well-behaved dog sitting in the back of his pickup truck is affordable for tomatoes. He gives excellent deals on tomato "seconds", too. The garlic guy has hard to find varieties (at least I don't know any another local market where I can find garlic varieties.) The garlic guy also himself bakes excellent traditional biscotti. He should have samples. Last year the waffle guy was my single favorite prepared food vendor from all the markets I attend, but this year he's moved away from using a cast iron waffle pan over a gas grill to a less bulkier setup. I have a soft spot for Corner Spore, too. Their mushrooms are pricey, but delicious, and we treat ourselves every once in a while. I would ask and purchase whatever mushrooms were harvested within 24 hours. I find the outdoor-grown mushrooms have more flavor.

                                2. Since you are near Pasadena, I suggest you go to a stand on Mountain Road in Pasadena. It is in the strip where the library is located. They are from a farm on the Eastern Shore. They also have delicious peaches. And they accept credit cards.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: zenim

                                    went to the stand in pasadena.. the boy there told me the produce was virginia.. i also went to papa johns on new cut road, vinces in linthicum and after all of that i am still looking for that great maryland tomato..

                                    1. re: swanfrench

                                      You won't have to look long. They're crankin'. My neighbor brought over some big fatties and they are delicious. Mine still have a little ways to go.

                                  2. The Sun ran a recent piece on tomatoes (sorry, cant find link), and why we in the Mid-Atlantic treasure them more less fortunate people. The reason: sweet tomatoes were first cultivated in Balt. County in the early 19th century

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: tartuffe

                                      Yup.. I read the story.. It was a very good piece.