Frequently Asked Questions
How should I store my tomatoes?
Because our tomatoes are freshly-picked, they do not need refrigeration. In fact, they will lose their flavour if they are chilled. We keep our tomatoes at room temperature just fine for at least a week or two.
When do you open in the Spring?
We typically open in late February or early March with cucumbers. The tomatoes start ripening in late April. For up-to-date information, follow us on Facebook or call the greenhouse at 780-658-3330
Are your products genetically modified or GMO?
No, they are not. We do not grow any GMO products in our greenhouse.
What are the health benefits of tomatoes?
Tomatoes are widely available, cost-effective, and people of all ages and cultures like them. Now, a review research has shown that eating more tomatoes and tomato products could make people healthier and slash their risk of developing killer diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Researchers Britt Burton-Freeman and Kristin Reimers of the National Centre for Food Safety and Technology, Illinois Institute of Technology and ConAgra Foods, Inc., looked at the current research to discover the role tomato products play in health and disease risk reduction. They found that tomatoes are the biggest source of powerful antioxidant lycopene.
Unlike nutrients in most fresh fruits and vegetables, lycopene has even greater potency after cooking and processing. Tomatoes also contain other protective mechanisms, such as antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory functions. The researchers also found a link between eating tomatoes and a lower risk of certain cancers as well as other conditions, including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, ultraviolet light–induced skin damage, and even cognitive dysfunction.
Why does fresh basil turn black?
Most likely your basil has been chilled. It does not like temperatures below 13C (55F). Here is a personal experience from a basil producer:
Several times now, we’ve had a conversation that goes like this:
“I brought a crate of basil cuttings to the chef at the restaurant I service. The next day, I got a call from him saying that the basil had gone bad! That’s impossible… I had just harvested it.”
Every time something like this happens, we ask, “did he put it in a cooler?” and always, the answer is yes. Usually, coolers are kept at 40-45º degrees, but basil doesn’t have the cellular machinery to deal with those temperatures. A few warm-weather crops respond to cold temperatures with rapid decay.
To extend the shelf life of basil, store it above 55º F (preferably at a temperature of 60º). At this temperature, it can attain a shelf life of 12 days. Instead of cooling the basil, keep it in a higher-temperature cooler, or on a counter in a cool room. For home consumers, a jar of water on a counter works great.
If growers package basil in bags or cartons that reduce moisture loss (plastic with little or no air exchange), be sure to keep storage temperatures steady to avoid condensation. Matt has had success with vented bags:
“We use vented bags and keep the basil out of sunlight at all costs! Our restaurants keep the bags in dry storage of some sort and most just hang the bags in the kitchen away from heat and certainly not in the cooler! If the restaurant has a wine cooler it is usually kept around 60-65F and can be a great place to store it.
“If we have issues with moisture in the bags we have will put a paper towel in the bottom but our best solution is to do 2 deliveries per week (only accounts at 2lb/wk or more). Costs us more but they never have bad basil.”
What if customers don’t listen to you and still store it in a cooler? Matt has solved this problem by providing a test bunch free of charge so that customers can see the results themselves.
“I’ve had stubborn customers who put the basil in a cooler and I’ll gift a bag of basil (usually .5 lb) and have them sit it out where I decide for a full week. Our record… 100% of them begin keeping the basil in that area after the test run.”
Handle basil gently, as bruising can increase the rate of deterioration. Many Upstart Farmers have found that selling basil packaged in clamshells is helpful for preserving the herb