Every summer, we get overwhelmed with a glut of tomatoes. The pattern is the same each year, starting with meagre pickings in the first few days, then just enough, a few too many and then so many that almost every meal contains tomatoes with still some to spare, at which time I start preserving them so we can eat them through the year.
Here are a few ideas for dealing with a glut of tomatoes.
The first tomatoes of the summer are picked and eaten still warm from the vine breathing in the smell of heat and tomatoes in the greenhouse. Those that make it into the house become the stars of the meal; a plate of sliced tomatoes dotted with mozzarella and basil leaves with oil drizzled over and a chunk of good bread to mop up the juices is all I need for lunch on a sunny day.
Six or so tomatoes (skinned and chopped) mixed with a few torn basil leaves, three tablespoons of rapeseed or olive oil and a good seasoning of salt and pepper make a change from sliced tomatoes. It’s also a good sauce to stir into hot pasta.
My favourite sandwich is made with white bread and sliced tomatoes, all firmly pressed down so that the tomato juice soaks into the bread. A nostalgic reminder of school trips when sandwiches were wrapped in tin foil and stuffed into a bag where they’d end up in a squashed mess underneath the detritus of the day.
Oven Dried Tomatoes
Take 1kg of tomatoes, cut them in half horizontally and lay them cut side up in the bottom of a baking dish. Drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and cook for about an hour until they’re soft, but not collapsed.
When they’ve cooled a bit, scrape them (with all the juices) into containers. I freeze small amounts to stir into stews or make into a quick sauce to spread onto a pizza base. Oven dried tomatoes also make a delicious tomato soup.
I follow The Shady Baker’s instructions for making passata. Sometimes I bottle passata but although it’s immensely satisfying to line up the jars on the shelf, (especially with matching labels like the one above) I’m not a confident bottler and worry that I may poison everybody, so usually end up freezing it instead.
I make tomato ketchup using the recipe from Food for Keeps by Pamela Westland. My children mock me. Who, they ask, would ever bother to make tomato ketchup? They tell me it doesn’t taste as good as Heinz. I tell them it tastes different. I only make tomato ketchup when we have a monumental glut of tomatoes.
I used to make pots and pots of chutney but have scaled back, to make just a few jars of different kinds. This is one of my favourites and we use it to liven up a cheese sandwich or cheese on toast.
1 clove garlic
2 pieces stem ginger
500 ml vinegar
1.5 kg tomatoes
450 g granulated sugar
1.5 teasp salt
(If I’m growing chillies too then I add one or two finely chopped for a little heat)
Finely chop the garlic and ginger, roughly chop the tomatoes and put everything into a preserving pan.
Bring to the boil and then simmer uncovered for about two hours until the chutney has thickened.
Pot as normal.
Green Tomato Mincemeat
This mincemeat uses the last of the tomatoes, the ones that you know will never ripen and tastes much better than it sounds. Store it in a cool place and bring it out at Christmas time to make your mince pies. Honestly, you wouldn’t know that it was made with green tomatoes.
Do you have a glut of tomatoes? Share your ideas for using them. Please.