Earlier this year, six NJ farms pulled together to can their own tomatoes, putting them out under the Jersey Fresh label. All of these farms are from the South Jersey region, but for some reason they initially began to sell the canned crushed tomatoes in North Jersey (and for those of you unfamiliar with NJ, they might as well be two different states). I knew nothing about them until a few weeks ago when they showed up at my local farmer's market. There were some women buying several cans of them so I asked if they had tried them. They said they had, and they were delicious.
I bought a couple of cans and used the product for the first time Sunday night to make eggplant parm. The women at the farmer's market were right. The crushed tomatoes are really good.
According to the press release issued earlier this year
Jersey Fresh Crushed Tomatoes are a premium product. It is made with pure, ripe Jersey Fresh Tomatoes. There is no tomato concentrate, no puree, no citric acid, no water and no sugar. It is all spelled out on the label, and no other major brand can make this claim.
So that's it. Just Jersey tomatoes. Excellent. I get to season them however I want including adding as much or as little salt as I want. I like it.
I like it for another reason, too. As much as I admire people who can their own produce, I'm not sure if it is something that I'm going to learn to do anytime soon. If I were to can my own produce, tomatoes would probably be the first thing I'd do. Now that this product is available, I don't have to can my own. I can support local farmers, my food isn't traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to get to me, and I can have the tomatoes year round. The press release also mentioned that the tomatoes are picked, processed and canned within 24 hours. I would assume that means that they are vine ripened and little or no energy is needed for refrigeration throughout the process.
Supporting local farmers is much more difficult in the winter than it is in the other seasons. I'm really glad I've found a way that I can continue to do it in a small way throughout the whole year.