Why Atok Benguet Cherry Tomatoes are the Sweetest in the Philippines?

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A photo of pasta pomodoro featuring cherry tomatoes on FarmConnect an Agritech Startup Philippines

If you love cherry tomatoes, you might have heard of Atok Benguet, a highland town in the Cordillera region of the Philippines. Atok Benguet is famous for producing the sweetest cherry tomatoes in the country, thanks to its unique climate and soil conditions.


What makes Atok Benguet cherry tomatoes so sweet?

Cherry tomatoes are naturally sweet, but Atok Benguet cherry tomatoes are even sweeter because of two factors: daytime warm temperature and cold night temperature.

Daytime warm temperature helps convert the cherry tomatoes’ sugar to fructose, which is the sweetest type of sugar. Fructose is also more stable than other sugars, so it does not degrade easily.

Cold night temperature slows down the growth of the cherry tomatoes, allowing them to accumulate more sugar and flavor. Cold night temperature also reduces water loss, which prevents the cherry tomatoes from becoming mushy or watery.

These two factors create a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity in the cherry tomatoes, making them the best pick for any dish.


How to make Pasta Pomodoro with Atok Benguet cherry tomatoes

Recipe:  Diego Jose Ramos

“Unbelievably delicious, a real treat of traditional Italian cooking for a Pomodoro cooked from scratch. Yes, I stole a few Cherry Tomatoes (ha!) before it was placed in the pan.. indeed sweet."

One of the simplest and most delicious ways to enjoy Atok Benguet cherry tomatoes is to make Pasta Pomodoro, a classic Italian dish that showcases the freshness and flavor of the tomatoes.

Here are the ingredients and steps to make Pasta Pomodoro with Atok Benguet Sweetest Cherry Tomatoes:

A photo of pasta pomodoro featuring cherry tomatoes of haights farm on FarmConnect an Agritech Startup Philippines
Ingredients
  • 500 grams of spaghetti pasta (N7 preferred)
  • 4 tablespoons of Pure Virgin Olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 500 grams of Atok Benguet cherry tomatoes, halved
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
  • A pinch of oregano and chili flakes (optional)

Cooking Steps: 
  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions, until al dente. Drain and set aside, reserving some of the pasta water.
  2. In a food processor, blend the celery, carrot, and onion until they form a creamy consistency. This is the sofrito, the base of the sauce.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the garlic for about a minute, or until fragrant.
  4. Cook until the sofrito reaches a sweaty creamy consistency, releasing its aromatic flavors. Layer season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. In another skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the cherry tomatoes, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until they are soft and juicy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Introduce fresh, hand-cut basil, oregano, and chili flakes (if using) and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened and aromatic.
  7. Add the cooked pasta to the cherry tomato sauce and toss to combine. Add some of the reserved pasta water if needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce.
  8. Serve hot, garnished with more basil leaves if desired.

This Pasta Pomodoro embodies the essence of Atok Benguet’s finest—the sweetness of its cherry tomatoes woven into a delectable culinary experience. Each bite reflects the careful balance of warm days and cool nights, capturing the essence of this picturesque region in every mouthful.

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