REVIVING THE JERSEY TOMATO
PHOTOGRAPH: PETER J. NITZSCHE
A new tomato is ripening across the state this summer. In response to an absence of Jersey tang in the modern tomato, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) developed the Rutgers 250. Its sweet-tart flavor satisfies nostalgia for the fruit of Jersey’s past.
In 2011, NJAES replicated the cross between the Marglobe (a twentieth-century heirloom) and the JTD (named for John Thompson Dorrance, who developed Campbell’s first condensed soup) that produced the original Rutgers tomato back in 1934. The Rutgers Snyder Research Farm has grown eight generations of these tomatoes over the past five years, selecting for firmness, deep red color and, most of all, flavor. “We wanted to recapture that classic tomato flavor using modern farming techniques,” Cindy Rovins, Rutgers Agricultural communications editor, says.
All 5,000 Rutgers 250 seed packets sold out in just a couple of weeks this spring. If you manage to get your hands on some, take note: “The best tomato is a combination of the genetics and the environment,” says Dr. Tom Orton, Rutgers Agricultural Extension Specialist. NJAES has been studying approaches from the era before mechanized farming and will start work on a Best Management Practices guide for the Rutgers 250 this summer.
Expect to see the tomato popping up at roadside stands in late July. Cut it in wedges, sprinkle it with a little sea salt and appreciate that Jersey zing. —Katherine Rapin
Editor’s Note: To celebrate all varieties of Jersey tomatoes, plan on attending the Annual Great Tomato Tasting, August 31, 3–7pm, at the Rutgers Clifford E. & Melda C. Snyder Research and Extension Farm, 140 Locust Grove Road, Pittstown. Fee ($7 per person; children under 10 free) will be collected at door. For reservations and more information: visit njaes.rutgers.edu/rsvp/tomato.
PHOTOGRAPH: COURTESY OF DELIBOY
Josh Gryvatz spends each Sunday in the kitchen so you don’t have to. He roasts vegetables, fluffs couscous, and grills steak for his weekly menu. On Monday evening he delivers meals (without a delivery charge) to front doors in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
Gryvatz started Deliboy last fall because he knows what it’s like to run out of time to cook at the end of the day. He’s the father of two young boys and manages his parents’ two catering services. Deliboy makes it easy and affordable for people to eat well—and eat what they want. Meals are $12 each for four (the minimum order), $11 each for eight, and $10 each for twelve. Orders are placed on Friday and meals are delivered in bags on ice the following Monday. Heat them up for dinner right away, or store them in the fridge for up to six days.
Deliboy offers a standard list of proteins, starches, and vegetables—you assemble the meal. Dinner could be a provolone and parsley chicken burger with rice pilaf and roasted carrots or roasted Atlantic salmon with spinach and quinoa. Deliboy offers soups, salads, sides, breakfasts, dessert, kids’ options, and a list of weekly specials.
“Every three to four weeks we change it up to reflect what’s happening, season-wise,” Gryvatz says. He’s looking forward to the grilled New Jersey peaches he’ll be serving with Greek yogurt and granola later this summer. —Katherine Rapin
THE CULTIVATED BLUEBERRY TURNS 100
PHOTOGRAPH: COURTESY OF THE WHITESBOG PRESERVATION TRUST
More than 100 years ago, Elizabeth White sent word to the locals in the Pine Barrens: She was looking for the best blueberry bushes in the woods, and she would pay well for them. Residents offered their best picking spots and White dug up the bushes and replanted them on her family’s farm. These 100 native blueberry bushes are the parent plants of modern American highbush blueberry production, which turns 100 this year.
Before White’s project, blueberries were thought to be too difficult to cultivate. Frederick Coville, who worked for the USDA for 40 years, conducted a study on blueberries and identified ideal growing conditions: highly acidic, sandy soil, and full sun. White came across the paper Coville published in 1911 and suspected that her family’s land might just be ideal. It was in southeastern New Jersey, then home to the largest cranberry bog in the US, for growing blueberries.
The two got together in Whitesbog and began cloning bushes from cuttings and crosspollinating plants to select for the biggest, sweetest yields. By 1916 they had developed a uniform berry they could sell, marking the first successful cultivation of the plant. A century later, the cultivated blueberry is a summer staple and a key ingredient in treats like pie, muffins, and ice cream. —Katherine Rapin
PHOTOGRAPH: STEVE TRIAS
Milk from 100-percent grass-fed cows, infused with seasonal ingredients and churned into a silky summer treat: Bucket & Bay Craft Gelato Co. in Jersey City does it right.
Jen and Boris Kavlakov opened their shop just a few blocks from the Hudson River last July. The cafe offers a seasonally changing lineup, including vegan sorbets and a roster of boozy gelato flavors. (Black Label Vanilla, anyone?)
“We make all of our gelato on site, from scratch,” Jen Kavlakov says. They start with milk from Oasis at Bird in Hand, an Amish dairy collective in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It’s not homogenized and is pasteurized at a lower temperature than industrial milk to retain its natural enzymes and beneficial bacteria.
If you can’t decide between the slew of intriguing flavors like strawberry port, Shavasana (lavender blueberry), lemon-thyme sorbet, and Cloud (anisette and mint, inspired by a Bulgarian cocktail), order a gelato flight and get a taste of all four. —Katherine Rapin
Bucket & Bay Craft Gelato Co.
150 Bay St., Jersey City