It’s tomato time in the garden. Apart from courgettes (which I have to confess, I am struggling to keep up with) they are the main produce at the moment. Little note for next year – 8 plants is not enough, most of the recipes I like to use need a minimum of 1, ideally 2kg at a time so I need a couple of extra plants. This year I have grown:
in Greenhouse – ‘Brandywine’ x 2, ‘Tigerella’ x 2
Outside – ‘Sungold’ x 2, ‘San Marzone’ x 2
See this post for more details of the planting.
Anyhow, the Sungold started to ripen a few weeks ago, they ripen a few at a time, as all tomatoes do so are perfect for picking the odd few for the kids. The Tigerella were next, followed by Brandywine (San Marzone are just starting to go red). I have picked 3.5 kg so far. 1kg has been made into a thick puree for the freezer for pizzas, 2kg was made into ketchup today and the others have been eaten fresh.
I have a confession, I don’t eat raw tomatoes. It’s the only thing I don’t eat, can’t stand them, I had hoped growing them might help but it hasn’t. I like them cooked and love them in sauces so this is where most of them end up. I am told that the home grown taste so much better than shop bought, my Mother loves Brandywine, she says they taste ‘like the tomatoes I eat on holiday’.
Most of the tomato things I make start out as tomatoes sliced in half and roasted in the oven for about 1 hr (on about 180 degrees) drizzled with a good glug of olive oil, some salt and pepper and whatever else seems appropriate (usually some sliced onions/shallots and basil). Once cooked I push them through a sieve to create a nice tomato paste. I freeze this for a base for soups later in the year, or pasta sauce. For pizza sauce I simmer the paste up until it’s quite thick and freeze in small containers. I read once that garlic gives a musty taste once frozen so I usually leave this out and add it when I am making up the food.
We taste trailed ketchup recipes last year and decided HFW does the best in his River Cottage Cookbook (also in the River Cottage Handbook No2 – ‘Preserves’), so I made a batch of that today. It is quite a lot of work for 2 jars of ketchup but it does taste amazing and it’s quite fun to make your own. The other recipe I have enjoyed making in the past is ‘De Kas tomato jam’ from Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook. It’s her adaptation of a recipe from De Kas restaurant in Amsterdam and is a sort of sweet pickle that you eat on crostini. It has vanilla and sugar and tastes much nicer than it sounds. The only thing is it doesn’t keep for more than a couple of months so I froze some last year and that seemed to work.
Finally, our monthly Farmers Market in the village has had a re-vamp and includes lots of new stalls (I believe new people run it). Today we had a flower man with lovely zinnias, salvias and dehlias and a stall selling homemade soaps and some fantastic camomile lotion which I bought for Charlie’s sometimes sore skin. As always I bought sausages for the kids and some cupcakes from the ‘cupcake lady’ – I am sure she has a real name but this is what the boys call her. Yummy!