Home-grown tomatoes are delicious and one of life’s simple pleasures is to eat a freshly picked tomato, still warm from the sun. Give me a table in the sunshine with a plate of tomato, mozzarella and basil, a drizzle of oil and some bread to mop up the juices and I’m happy.
My favourite sandwich is generously buttered white bread with sliced tomatoes, salt and pepper, which is then squashed and left somewhere warm for a while so that the tomato juice runs into the bread. An effort, I realise, to conjure up those long lost childhood days before we had ice packs, when a packed lunch would be crammed in the bottom of a bag as we went off all day to explore on our bikes.
It seems to take an age for tomatoes to ripen fully and the first tomatoes of the season are eaten sparingly, perhaps in a sandwich or popped into my mouth as I spy one. Then as the pyramid of tomatoes picked each day threatens to avalanche, rations increase. We eat tomato soup with tomato & garlic bread, spaghetti with tomatoes, potatoes baked with tomatoes, cold tomato salads, warm roast tomato salads, tomatoes for lunch, tomatoes for supper and then I give up and throw them in the freezer (just as they are – no need to do anything to them other than put them in a container) for the winter.
And then I make preserves: my favourite Sweet Tomato Chutney, Jane’s passata and a Green Tomato Mincemeat ready for Christmas mince pies. I’ve even made tomato ketchup using the recipe from Food for Keeps by Pamela Westland. My children mocked me. Who, they asked, bothers to make tomato ketchup? They told me it didn’t taste as good as Heinz. I told them it tastes different. They agreed. And not so good. I only make tomato ketchup when we have a monumental glut of tomatoes.
Try the ideas below if you have a glut of tomatoes or are just looking for different ways to use tomatoes.