Sometimes Being Second is a Good Thing

by Kimberly Hickok

When it comes to tomatoes, being second is a wonderful thing – especially when it comes to tomatoes you’re going to cook with. Let me explain. This year has been a horrible year for my garden and my tomatoes have been slow to take off. So rather than wait to see whether or not my garden would produce, I took matters into my own hands. Nature be damned!

I called one of my favorite local, organic farms (Denison Farm) and asked them if I could purchase some tomatoes. I told them I was specifically looking for ‘seconds’.

Tomatoes that qualify as seconds usually have splits or cracks. They may not be pretty but they are great for cooking, eating right away or canning. I was able to get a 25 pound box of tomatoes for $25. Perfect!

Except for a few cracks and splits, these tomatoes were pristine! Exactly what I was looking for.

Except for a few cracks and splits, these tomatoes were pristine! Exactly what I was looking for.

So far I’ve gotten about five quarts of sauce from the box and have enough tomatoes left for about another quart and a half.

My preferred method to make sauced is roasting. It’s simple enough.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Cut tomatoes and roast on rimmed baking sheet with salt, onions and garlic.
  3. Halfway through stir tomatoes and add red wine and some crushed red pepper.
  4. Continue to roast until the tomatoes begin to look toasty, or caramelized.
  5. Remove from oven. Add fresh herbs.
  6. Process in a food mill. Season to taste. Place in quart freezer bags.


I post about this process in more detail here. The bottom line is this: Don’t be afraid to ask your local farm if you can purchase produce in bulk or for seconds. They’ll be more than happy to accommodate your request and you may even get your produce at a reduced rate.

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