PHOTO: An Italian Heirloom tomato so big (1.8 pounds) it covers most of a dinner plate.
It's that time of year when all the many hours you’ve spent transplanting, staking, and weeding your tomato plants have finally paid off. Now you have containers full of tomatoes in the fridge, and baskets, buckets even, of them all over the counter.
You’ve sliced them on salads, cooked them in sauces, and endlessly snacked on them. But there’s still more to consume. So, what do you do with all those tomatoes waiting for somebody to do something with them?
There are a couple different ways to put up the tomato harvest so you can get a taste of summer all year long.
1). FREEZING - If you have enough space in your freezer, you can simply freeze tomatoes whole. This works especially well for cherry tomatoes, as you can fit a bunch of them in a bag, but you can freeze any tomatoes. You can then throw them into soups, stews and sauces that you make over the winter. To freeze them, just rinse them off and pop them in a one gallon ziplock bag. Make sure all tomatoes you freeze are high quality and without any bad spots.
LEMON DROP and MATT'S WILD CHERRY tomatoes are two new varieties that Ox and Robin will be offering in 2020. Both of these freeze very well as they are not prone to cracking. Bags of these little bursts of color and flavor will fit nicely around your other frozen foods. Hint: On a recent energy audit of our house, we learned that it helps your fridges and freezer run more efficiently if the freezer is packed full.
2). CANNING - All the different tomatoes we sell at Ox and Robin can be used for sauce, but the ones that are best suited for that purpose are:
JAUNE FLAMME - a small orange tomato that gives sauces a rich tomatoey taste
ITALIAN HEIRLOOM TOMATO - If you like tomatoes that have a good balance of sweet and acid, this one is hard to beat. It tastes even better in sauce. Meaty, peels easily - yum!! While most Italian Heirlooms are about a pound, the biggest one we grew this summer (in the photo above) weighed in just a little under 2 pounds.
ORANGE BANANA - Though this tomato has enough flavor and juice to be used as a slicer, it’s really bred to be a paste tomato.
POTATO LEAF- A nice little pink tomato with a balanced flavor profile that can be used either as a slicer or in sauces.
Here’s a simple recipe to get started with canning:
At least 3-5 large tomatoes or about 10 smaller ones
Several pieces of chopped fresh herbs (basil, thyme, rosemary)
1-2 cloves of chopped garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
A pot, preferably stainless steel
A mason jar and new lid (or jars depending on how many tomatoes you have)
A separate large stainless steel pot for sterilizing the jar or jars and lid
Fill the big pot with enough water to fill and cover the jars (standing up) and heat to a roiling boil. Turn down the heat slightly so the water is just boiling, and keep at that temperature for 30 minutes.
Cut tomatoes in quarters and squeeze out the seeds and juice, then put them in the smaller pot and heat for at least 30 minutes. Some of the varieties, such as Italian Heirloom and Orange Banana can be easily peeled before adding to the pot. Add garlic, salt and pepper. When the flesh is soft, turn off heat. Remove remaining skins with a slotted spoon or a fork, and then ladle into jars, leaving half an inch of room between the top and the sauce. Screw the lid on tight and set in the pantry until you’re ready to use it.
You will be delighted in the dead of winter when you open up one of these cans and taste the difference between your own canned heirloom tomatoes and the sauce you can get at the store.