Making the Most of a Homegrown Tomato Bounty

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

Tomato season is almost upon us! There are few crops a home gardener grows that can produce such bounty for such an extended amount of time. Once they start ripening, their abundance can become overwhelming. The way to get the most out of a bumper crop of tomatoes is to be prepared with recipes and methods for preparing, preserving and, most importantly, enjoying them long before the barrage begins.

Enjoying a homemade tomato bounty:

  • Caprese Salad – This is a classic, made of sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, sprinkled with basil leaves, salt and pepper and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Panzanella – (also known as Italian bread salad) consists of cubed French bread, onion, cucumber and diced tomatoes with basil, salt and pepper and either dressed with extra virgin olive oil or a vinaigrette.
  • Salsa – For a dip that’s the hit of the party, cube tomatoes and add chopped sweet and hot peppers of your choice, diced onion, cilantro, a splash of lime juice, a bit of sugar and salt to taste.
  • Stuffed – Think of plump, round tomatoes as edible bowls. Serve them cold stuffed with chicken or seafood salad, quinoa, pasta, or vegetables; or stuff with cheese and breadcrumbs and bake.
  • Fried Green Tomatoes – Some folks don’t even wait for the tomatoes to ripen (or they make this dish at the end of the season when tomatoes must be picked lest they freeze on the vine). This recipe sounds divine.
  • Roasted/Grilled – Cooking tomatoes with dry heat evaporates their natural moisture, giving them a deeper flavor. Roasted or grilled tomatoes can be eaten alone, served on bread topped with cheese, used as as a pizza topping, stirred into pasta or risotto or mixed into a vegetable medley. Roasted tomatoes can be frozen for later use.
  • Sun-Dried in the Oven – Make your own sun dried tomatoes for pennies. Slice tomatoes at least in half, the largest ones in eighths so that the slices are of similar size. Remove most of the seeds and pulp with a teaspoon and blot tomatoes dry with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt and lay slices on a foil-lined cookie sheet about an inch apart. Bake at oven’s lowest temperature from 6-12 hours, checking periodically and removing those that are dried.
  • Getting to the “meat” of the tomato – The most valuable part of the tomato is its flesh. If you’re planning to make puree (which can be used in a multitude of dishes) you’re going to need to get to that tomato “meat.” Here’s how: First, peel the tomatoes by plunging them into boiling water for one minute, followed by a dip in ice water. Remove from the water and the skins will slip right off. Next, seed the tomatoes by cutting them in half and scooping them out along with the whitish membrane with a teaspoon. The tomato flesh that remains can be frozen “as is” or pureed for sauce or soup.
  • Share/trade – As with any abundance, you can use your tomatoes as currency. Some ideas to consider:
    • Folks without gardens  appreciate it when the gardeners they know share their abundance.
    • If you’re a cook, some homemade tomato sauce is worth its weight in gold to a non-cook.
    • You can diversify your meals by trading some of your tomatoes for, say, your neighbor’s zucchini or your friend’s peppers.
    • A basket of homegrown tomatoes makes a very thoughtful, “thanks for watching our house while we were on vacation” gift.

Fresh, cooked, preserved for later…make the most of your tomato harvest by planning ahead for the bounty!

What’s your favorite thing to do with homegrown tomatoes?

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