TomTato….

As sold by Thompson & Morgan.

v2web-tomtato-pa

 

In their own words:

‘Here’s another major horticultural breakthrough from Thompson & Morgan! Specially hand-grafted plants producing potatoes AND tomatoes are now available to UK home gardeners for the first time. Above the ground harvest more than 500 cherry tomatoes with a Brix level of 10.2 – that’s sweeter than supermarket tomatoes. Fruits also have just the right level of acidity that only the tastiest tomatoes have.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL… Below the ground harvest heavy yields of delicious white potatoes which are incredibly versatile. You can boil them, mash them, roast them or make chips. That’s right! From one plant you can harvest tomatoes AND potatoes. This concept has been worked on for over 15 years, but this is the first time that plants have been successfully produced commercially. Tomatoes are members of the potato family and are therefore naturally compatible with potatoes. Each TomTato™ plant is specially grafted by hand to create this unique double cropping feature. There’s no genetic modification – it’s an all-natural, and safe process.’

It’s just a bit bonkers isn’t it?  If they were cheaper to buy, I’d get at least one, just for the fun of it, but I think I’ll have to stick to growing them separately 🙂

 

 

Advertisements

Brown Sauce (HP to us Brits!)…

I really fancied the idea of making some HP sauce with the tomatoes and apples from the garden (the apples are the first from our family apple tree, planted last year, they were growing on the ‘golden delicious’ branch).

DSC_0034

I googled just about every recipe there is and found a huge variation in ingredients and methods, but this is what I went for:

DSC_0037

1.5-2kg fresh tomatoes (I didn’t measure them – duh! sorry)

These were roasted until completely soft then pushed through a sieve.  You could substitute with tinned puree (x 2) or just tinned tomatoes (x 2).  In the case of both, especially the puree, I’d also add a bit of water.

4 small apples, peeled, cored and chopped

3 small onions, peeled and chopped

60 g pitted dates

60 g prunes

I blitzed the above in my ‘chopper’ then added them to the tomato puree and simmered on a low heat until completely soft again.  At this point, most people then just blend the mixture, but I blended it then passed through a sieve again, as I really liked the idea of a smooth sauce.

(Next time, I’ll just simmer all the above, along with the tomatoes as one stage, as I do when making tomato sauce and then pass it all through a sieve instead of doing it in two stages).

250 ml orange juice

250 ml apple juice

200 ml cider vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

3 tablespoons tamarind

3 tablespoons black treacle

1/4 teaspoon mustard powder

3/4 teaspoon celery salt

All the above were added to the new puree, along with the spices below, which I tied into a muslin cloth.

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon whole allspice

1 clove of garlic (bruised)

1 bay leaf

2 blades of mace

1 small stick of cinnamon

It was all simmered again, and reduced until it reached the consistency I liked.  I then bottled it up into sterilised jars and bottles, that were warming in the oven (15 mins in an oven at about 150 degrees), I used some great posh apple juice bottles that have quite wide tops so are perfect for this thick sauce.

DSC_0030

I ended up with three jars, which is not a lot for all the work involved and even though I tasted it many times (I stood there at the fridge, looking like a crazy lady, swapping between HP, TipTree and my own, trying to compare them all), once it had cooled and I tried it again I’m not sure the flavours are strong enough.  I think I’d go for more vinegar and add some brown sugar (or more treacle) and perhaps even more spices next time.

Will there be a next time?  Probably, I quite like the idea of making HP, but I don’t think I’d use my own tomatoes; their beautiful flavour, which makes such an amazing puree for pizza toppings, if not eaten fresh, is kind of wasted on this.  Still, with the late warm weather that has suddenly arrived, there is quite a good chance we’ll have even more red tomatoes to come 🙂

Tomatoes, the results…

For the first time in a few years, I decided to grow all my tomatoes inside the greenhouse.  It was going well, even with my dodgy watering system used over our three week vacation.

From seeds sown back in March, I grew:

  • Sungold x 4 
  • Brandywine x 3
  • San Marzone x 4
  • Tigerella x 4
  • Ildi x 2

After a great start, and a good middle, sadly, it’s all going starting to go a bit downhill.

DSC_0046

Firstly, I appear to have a bit of Blossom end rot in some of my plum tomatoes (the ‘San Marzone’).  On reading, it was probably caused by excessive heat during blossom set (which we had) and not very consistent watering, which apparently can cause calcium deficiency, which damages the fruit during formation.  I could have fixed this with good feeding and regular watering.  I’ll admit, I did very little feeding this year and they didn’t get fed at all when we were away, so it serves me right.  Still, it was only one plant that suffered and even on that one, not all the fruit, so not a total disaster.

DSC_0042

Next, I went into the greenhouse the other day to find my frame system had collapsed.  The above is taken AFTER I’d attempted to quickly get it back into place, before the stems were damaged.  I should have done a better job in the first place.

Now, though, my main worry is that the bulk of the crop will not ripen, as our lovely summer has abruptly ended and autumn is here.  It is my favourite season, but for the garden it’s all suddenly gone dark and soggy.  With luck, I’ll get most of it red, otherwise there will be a lot of green tomato chutney being made around here.

DSC_0041

Oh, and to top it off, the white fly arrived, en masse.  Seriously, a little cloud of the hideous things fly up each time I open the door (it’s got so cold, I’ve taken to closing it) to water the plants.  I know I could probably do something about them, it just feels quite late now, I just need a few more days (weeks?) and then I’ll start clearing everything out anyway.

DSC_0033

On the plus side, I made my first batch of tomato sauce at the weekend. As always, we went with our favourite recipe, which is from the River Cottage.  Basically it tastes like a very posh and flavoursome version of the kids favourite variety, ‘Heinz’.  I’d love to suggest my boys are more adventurous in their tastes, I did used to buy them a tasty ‘Tiptree’ version, that I think is much more homemade tasting but they weren’t having any of it.

DSC_0034

With the final ripe batch, I plan to make my own HP (Brown) Sauce and any other fruit, not eaten fresh, will be roasted then pushed though a sieve to make nice sauce for pizza (which I keep in the freezer in little pots).

Not a bad year, but not perfect either.  Laziness was obviously the main problem.  Live and learn 😉

Also, thanks for all your comments and ‘likes’.  I’m afraid I’ve been rubbish at replaying and my general blog visiting, but with the boys back at school, I hope to catch up soon.