Tomatoes: so close I can taste it.
Well folks, amazingly, July is almost over! And while it saddens me that August is almost upon us, meaning school is right around the corner, we still have much to look forward to over the final month or so of summer. One of those things is tomatoes, probably the most wonderful fruit of any vegetable garden or farm. Tomatoes are not only delicious, but as a plant, they have an amazing history. For centuries, it was labeled as a poison, and it has taken trip after trip across the Atlantic. Those tomatoes have one crazy story. To read a little about that history (which I highly recommend) check out the Tomato Garden Guru or the ever faithful Wikipedia.
When tomatoes begin to ripen we know that the fullest bounty of the farm is here. That means basil, peppers, cucumbers, corn, and eggplants will soon be here as well. In fact, I can assure our CSA members that they will see some bell peppers and eggplants very, very soon, if not at your next share pick up, the following one for sure.
So, when the overflowing bounty of tomatoes begins to bombard you what shall you do? Well, there are many, many options from the traditional water-bath canning to eating ‘em raw in salads to making your own ketchup or bbq sauce. Tomatoes may be the most versatile crop we grow at the PEAS Farm as far as eating. Here are two ways I like to use them, one is a long term storage method, and the other is my favorite way to eat them raw:
1. Tired of water-bath canning your tomatoes? Worried about the safety of your canned goods? Well, there are alternatives! One, in regards to tomatoes (and any fruit for that mater), is to just freeze them whole! Fill up a freezer bag with as many ripe tomatoes as you can and throw them in the freezer for later use. Now they will be soggy post defrost with this method, so I actually like to puree the tomatoes and then freeze the puree. You can use it to make sauce, soups, juice, smoothies, etc. So fast, so easy.
2. Got some amazing looking and tasting heirloom slicing tomatoes? I got one word for you: sandwiches! Here are two sandwiches that are incredible with a big, thick slice of tomato on them: Option #1: Tomato and caramelized leeks with mayo on focaccia, so good and so easy, even if you make your own focaccia! It still takes no time at all! Option #2: Tomato, pesto (or just plain basil leafs), and fresh mozzarella drizzled with olive oil (only necessary if not using pesto) on focaccia or baguette. What can I say, but that I would eat it everyday if I could!
So, don’t limit yourself to only your grandmother’s style of using tomatoes! Sauces and canned tomatoes are great, but they are just the tip of the iceberg as far as the many ways you can use all the tomatoes that are so close to inundating your kitchens!
Til next time! Eat right, work hard, and smile and laugh as much as you can!