Learn How to Pick Tomatoes at the Farmer's Market with Executive Chef Mateo Bergamini

Learn How to Pick Tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market with Executive Chef Mateo Bergamini

Fruits and veggies taste best when eaten in-season.

Finding the right tomatoes and fresh produce is an important part of cooking a world-class meal at home. We took a trip with Black Barn‘s Executive Chef Mateo Bergamini to the Farmer’s Market in Union Square to get his expert advice on how to pick the right tomatoes as well as how to best preserve them to use in the Fall and Winter. He happened to share a lot of valuable information including where to get the best Italian style tomatoes in New York.


Here is what we learned when it comes to picking the right fruits & vegetables:

How to pick the right tomatoes

➊ Sight → Be mindful of the color — make sure it’s deeply colored whether it’s yellow, green, orange, or red.

➋ Smell →  You’ll know it when you smell it because it smells like sweet tomatoes!

➌ Touch → Give it a squeeze — You want it to feel firm but not too hard. 


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Black Barn Restaurant’s Executive Chef Bergamini

TIP: Chef Bergamini recommends going with heirloom tomatoes and choosing a basket of different shapes and sizes. You can even customize them. 

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TIP: The best time to buy your tomatoes is between July through early September. Chef Bergamini suggested August being a great time for ripened, sweet, and tasty tomatoes. August is also prime time for juicy peaches, meaty eggplants, and so much more. 

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TIP: These roma tomatoes (also known as plum) are best for cooking in sauces because they contain less water in them. 

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TIP: Chef Bergamini recommends getting these tiny matt wild cherry tomatoes which have a sweet flavor. He says they are beautiful to garnish salads and helps upgrade the taste — he’s very right about that!

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How to preserve your tomatoes through the other seasons:

➊ Go get tomatoes in-season: July, August, or early September.

➋ To preserve tomatoes you can freeze them, but when you defrost them use that juice because it’s the flavor — it’s not just water.

You can also put them in a jar — cut or crushed. Add a basil leaf then seal your jar. Next, you want to grab a larger pot and fill it with water to boil. Place your jar into your pot, make sure the boiling water covers the jar. And let it simmer for about an hour. remove your jar and let it cool off on the counter before storing it away.

You get the freshness of the tomatoes through Winter just like it was in the Summer. We call it preserved tomatoes, and do it a lot at the [Black Barn] restaurant.

— Chef Bergamini

On your next Farmer’s Market adventure, be sure to try these Tri Star strawberries.

TIP: Make sure they’re fragrant and sweet to taste. 

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TIP: These purple moldavian balms are great for pastries. I love eating flowers, whenever appropriate of course, and this one was filled with a lemon type flavor. 

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 TIP: How to pick the right peach — smell it — it should smell like a peach and squeeze it to feel a little softness ツ

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TIP: These eggplants are not bitter and contain less seeds. Chef Bergamini likes to serve them with Branzino — with garlic and thyme — at Black Barn.

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To find fruits and vegetables like they have in Italy — Chef Bergamini trusts Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, owned by Rick Bishop, based in Roscoe, NY.

Rick is a great person who has tremendous love for what he does. I bring him seeds from Italy and he does his best to recreate Italy’s soil to farm them in.

— Chef Bergamini

To grow their tomatoes, they recreate volcanic soil — just like in Naples — by adding ashes, eggshells, and algae to fertile soil.

During our trip, Chef Bergamini got greeted by many friendly faces every few minutes — and no surprise, he comes to the market frequently. Often with the owner of Black Barn Chef John Doherty, who use to be the executive chef at the historic Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan for twenty-three years.

Chef Bergamini and Doherty come to get inspired for their specially curated Che’f Table menu. These dishes, using the most freshest ingredients, can only be experienced dinning at the Chef’s Table.

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black barn tomato

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At the Chef’s Table, the six course dinning menu is paired with a variety of wines meant to bring out flavors you never knew you could experience!

 Call them to book your experience!

(212) 265-5959

Join the Chef’s Table and remember no two menus are alike!