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Fresh From The Market

A trip to the farmers market in summer is an essential part of the Southern experience. With fruits and vegetables overflowing from farms and truck patches, canned jams and jellies from local purveyors, locally made salsas and seasonings, and freshly baked goods, summer is the time to savor the flavors of the region.

The summer season brings with it green beans, lady peas, yellow squash, beets, peaches, zucchini, eggplant, okra, and of course the grand dame of them all - The Tomato. 

It must not have been tomato season in the Garden of Eden or Eve would have clearly tempted Adam with a tomato. This food from God’s hands is eaten fresh, stewed, fried, and even made into pies in the Deep South.

Every Southerner knows that the best tomato is one grown in your own backyard. Whether you have raised beds full of heirlooms or containers filled with branches weighed down heavy with cherry tomatoes, these gifts of summer come sweetest the closer they are grown to your kitchen.

If you can’t grow your own, the second runner-up is the farmers market. Each market has that one special farmer who is known for the best tomatoes. If you must buy from the grocery store, only do so in summer. It’s just not worth eating tomatoes out of season.

These divine creatures come in all sorts of colors and funny names: Cherokee Purple, German Queen, Mr. Stripey, Brandywine, Green Zebra.

Best Ways To Enjoy Summer Tomatoes:

  1. Sliced On A Veggie Plate - Slice that fresh tomato and sprinkle with a little salt. 
  2. Tomato Sandwich - Some will argue, but I love my tomato sandwich with slightly toasted bread, a little olive oil and salt, and a slather of Duke's Mayonnaise.
  3. Caprese Salad - Sliced and paired with mozzarella, evoo, fresh basil, and salt.
  4. Heirloom Tomato Salsa - Years ago, when my husband and I were newlyweds, thanks to the advice of some dear foodie friends, I actually opened the food processor we got as a wedding present, and began making my own salsa. Over the years it has evolved from store-bought tomatoes to farmers market tomatoes. There is nothing quite as good as freshly made salsa in summertime. Here’s the recipe:

HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALSA

1/4 cup cilantro

1/2 jalapeño (whole if you like it spicy)

1/4 red onion, diced

1 clove garlic, sliced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lime juice

2 cups heirloom tomatoes, chopped into chunks

DIRECTIONS:

In a food processor, combine all ingredients in order listed. It is important to put the herbs and spice on bottom so they chop up properly. Process until blended yet still a little chunky. Chill and serve with tortilla chips.

A quick, local favorite without the food processor - Muchacha de Masias found regularly at MidCity Market. 

Another tried and true flavor of Southern summers: The Cobbler. Fan favorites are made with either freshly picked peaches or blackberries which abound in local markets during mid-summer. Cobblers originated in America when colonists couldn’t find suitable ingredients for traditional English pudding. So they opted for stewed fruit topped with batter and baked. These dishes became so popular they were often served for breakfast or as a main course.

COBBLER RECIPE

1 tbsp butter

3 cups fresh blackberries or sliced peaches

Sugar to taste

4 tbsp butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup milk

Dash of vanilla

Pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS

Cook fruit in butter and add sugar to taste. Simmer until soft and creamy.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk sugar, flour, milk, vanilla and salt.

Heat 4 tbsp butter in a 9 inch iron skillet. Remove from heat once melted. Pour flour mixture into skillet. Top with fruit mixture and let sink into batter. Bake 30 minutes. Check at 25 minutes.

When lightly golden brown, remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream if you’re a traditionalist.

Need a quick fix of sweet summer goodness you can simply slather on bread or a biscuit? Shop The Mason Jar Canning and Home and her decadent line of canned jams, jellies, and pickles. Find The Mason Jar regularly at MidCity Market and Greene Street Market.

Visit a local market:

Greene Street Market - Every Thursday 4pm-sunset. Downtown at the corner of Eustis Avenue and Greene Street.

MidCity Market - Every Sunday Noon-4pm through November at The Camp.

Bailey Cove Farmers Market - Every Saturday 8-Noon. St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 12200 Bailey Cove Road, 35803.

It must not have been tomato season in the Garden of Eden or Eve would have clearly tempted Adam with a tomato. 

  • Apollo Acres Seasonings
  • Muchacha se Masias
  • Tammary Farm Cheese Straws
  • The Mason Jar
  • The Mason Jar
  • Peach Cobbler