Thursday, 14 August 2014
Using the Tomatoes part I
Kev at An English Homestead... (check him out if you haven't done so already) asks how I make tomato paste. This has inspired me to do a "Tomato Post"
I sow my first tomato seed in January, the same time that I sow my maincrop onion seed. These tomatoes are Shirleys. We used to grow Triton tomatoes, but can no longer get these seed.. Over the next few weeks I sow more Shirley, a plum tomato, a beefsteak and outdoor girl as a minimum . I try a new variety each year as well, there are so many to choose from nowadays, which I find interesting. I grow 50 to 60 plants in greenhouses and others dotted around the garden, at some distance from the potatoes and not where potatoes were grown last year.
The staggered sowing ensures a continuous crop from mid July until October and with luck the odd one in November
As you can see we plan for a glut!
I pick every couple of days. I put a few bags outside for sale, plan for meals that star tomatoes and process any left. These will include small, misshapen, split, overripe... rejects.
Wash tomatoes, place in a glass or plastic bowl and put in microwave until soft. Push the tomatoes through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Put this on a low heat, stirring occasionally until the water is cooked out. When it gets thick keep your eye on it, stirring more often so that it doesn't burn. Pour into containers and freeze (or into the fridge and use within the week)
The process for making this is the same as for the paste until the reduction process. Just a quick boil is needed to ensure any spores are killed and it is ready to go. Sometimes I just skin tomatoes and blitz in the Willy Wizzer, seeds and all, boil and freeze when cold. You can add peppers, courgettes, garlic, onions, herbs - whatever you want to really to the mix.
Pour boiling water over the toms to help remove the skins. (if you want to you can remove the seeds at this stage, but I don't bother) Put the tomatoes in the slow cooker (or saucepan if you haven't got a slow cooker) with onion, celery, carrot and garlic as a minimum. This is where I also add pumpkin , squash or marrow, swede or sweet potato if I have them. pour over a couple of pints of veggie stock (oxo in my case) pepper, salt and a spoonfull of sugar. Cook all until soft and then liquidise, taste and re-season . Adding basil to this soup is good and for a heartier one I add red lentils to the veg at the onset.
Dried tomates in oil
Halve your tomatoes, plum and beefsteak ones are particularly good for this. place on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt. I use coarse sea salt, but that is just a preference. Place in a cool oven or if you are lucky enough to have a Rayburn in the slow part and leave for as long as it takes for them to feel rubbery (not crisp). When this is achieved, place on a wire rack to cool . Pack into jars and cover with olive oil (Aldi and Lidl both do reasonably priced Oil). At this stage you could place a couple of garlic cloves or a sprig of thyme or rosemary to the jar if you wish.
Later in the year (or when the dreaded blight strikes) I use up the green tomatoes in chutney.
In my next post I will give my recipe for chutney - NOT Green tomato chutney! using other gluts and misshapes.
I thought you might also be interested in a couple of my favourite recipes using tomatoes.
Until next time