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How to Buy Cheaper Tomatoes

We have a wonderful local farm and orchard.

When we're canning, we spend a lot of time there, and we've always found their prices to be very reasonable.

The food is straight from the vine or tree, and it tastes great. Plus, there's no transportation cost, so the prices are a fraction of what the grocery store charges.

Joe's tomatoes haven't yet started to ripen, but he was itching to get some spaghetti sauce made this weekend. I was hoping to make some cherry or apple butter.

Who cares that this was the hottest weekend of the summer, with heat indices over 105 degrees? Not us.

Bring on the hot kitchen!

Anyway, we went to the farm's store. homemade spaghetti sauce

Joe agonized over the tomatoes. He looked at this variety and that, knowing that some are better for spaghetti sauce than others.

The tomatoes were all $6 per peck, but Joe noticed a wooden bushel basket full of tomatoes and asked someone about it.

In case you don't know, there are 4 pecks in a bushel.  A bushel of nice tomatoes would have cost us $24.

“Those?” the employee said. “Those are the pick outs. They're blemished. They aren't as nice as these over here.”

Joe looked at the tomatoes and back at the employee. “How much are they?”

“$8,” he replied.

I raised my eyebrows. “$8 for the whole bushel?” The blemishes were things like small bruises and splits.

“Yeah, $8 for the whole bushel. But they aren't perfect.”

Who cares if they're perfect? Joe was intending to peel and puree them anyway. So for 8 bucks, we left with a bushel of tomatoes.

That made 10 quarts of homemade spaghetti sauce.

Joe estimated that it took him about 15 minutes more than normal to cut the blemishes off; that was the only extra task required for our $16 savings.

The lesson here – ask at your local farm, market, or stand for the second-rate tomatoes. They'll save you a bundle.

Happily submitted to Thrifty Thursday and Frugal Friday

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© 2010 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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3 thoughts on “How to Buy Cheaper Tomatoes”

  1. So smart. We've done that with apples for apple butter before. I'll try to find some cheap tomatoes b/c I also want to make tomato sauce and freeze it for winter. I'd love to have your recipe. I've only ever used canned tomatoes for sauce.

  2. i laughed at the “second rate tomatoes” comment LOL
    we don't grow enough to make homemade sauce, usually just enough for sandwiches, salsa or a salad. I will definitely look into this next time.

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