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I never thought I could have too many tomatoes in my house. And I mean the summer time- grown at a local farmer’s market -or in your back yard -kind of tomato. But that is the state I find myself in right now. We are on vacation at my parent’s old farmhouse in northeastern Massachusetts and for some reason every last tomato that was planted on Memorial day weekend (when the whole backyard vegetable garden is always planted) decided to ripen at exactly the same moment. We have big tomatoes, plum tomatoes, golden and red cherry tomatoes and quite a few already rotten tomatoes on the vine. I feel like I Love Lucy in that candy factory trying to wrap up the small pieces of candy before they escape from her down the conveyor belt. I have been reduced to randomly chucking cherry tomatoes in my mouth at all times of the day just to decrease the tomato population in any way I can.
There are many reasons this situation is upsetting – the fear of wasting food, the challenge of coming up with a million tomato dishes, the time it takes to make a million tomato dishes when I am trying to focus on other summertime projects…- but the biggest reason is that there are only four of us at the farm right now and we had nothing to do with the planting or nurturing of these tomatoes (all the way down to the careful ripening of the compost that is mixed in with the soil). There are 21 other family members who come to this farm throughout the summer and not one of them is going to eat a family farm tomato. I feel guilty.
I have been pondering this terrible situation as the tomatoes sit in baskets on the kitchen counter, a few getting taken over by random bugs as the days pass and I have finally come up with a solution. Since the four of us are pretty much tired of eating fresh tomatoes out of the garden (yes, that has happened, never in a million years did I think it would) I am just going to make an enormous batch of tomato sauce. I am going to start with the beefsteaks and cook them down with onion and garlic and then puree them. And then I am going to add chopped up plums and coarsely chopped cherries (pulsed in the food processor, there are way too many to chop by hand) and let them cook a bit. Finally I am going to freeze the whole mess in several batches for various members of this family to enjoy in the dead of winter.
Maybe there will still be some tomato sauce in the freezer at Christmas when we return to enjoy the holiday with the greater Moulton family. I can invent a Christmas pasta dish. Maybe by then I will be in the mood for a recipe made with fresh tomatoes.
August 22nd, 2010 at 12:22 pm
You could always donate them to a food bank….. just my 2 cents.
Tom Mackie Says:
August 22nd, 2010 at 2:06 pm
I’m surprised at the number of people (not you) who don’t attack the problem in the simplest way. My Grandmother, who always had the same problem of too many becoming ripe at about the same time, used to make a layer of tomatoes on a large platter, then some sliced red onion, then more tomatoes & a few more onions. She’d then pour a marinade of oil, vinegar, S&P and a dash of sugar over them, cover with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge for an hour or so. They were always eaten up in no time flat. (By the way, she’d then pour off the remaining tomato water into a bowl to make a vinegarette.) I guess it’s too simple for cookbooks, as I never see it.
August 22nd, 2010 at 6:59 pm
Ha! Great tomato blog, Sara. I laughed, I learned (a recipe for tomato sauce) I loved (you;). Fan for years. Best to you and your family.
Barb Sweeten Says:
August 24th, 2010 at 4:36 pm
Freeze them – raw! It works beautifully. Just quarter (or smaller) the big ones, lay them on a sheet pan, freeze and then bag them up. When you go to use them just run them under cold water (frozen) to slip the skins off. Use them in place of canned. I’ve done this for years, and while you won’t have the texture of fresh tomatoes the are delicious and are better than any canned tomato you’ve ever used.
Let me know how it works!
Holly Carrico Says:
September 5th, 2010 at 12:58 am
I know what you mean about tomatoes, I ended up freezing mine. Done canning when I was younger, just over that much work. Made spaghetti sauce also for quick night suppers. I really enjoy your shows and will be waiting for your upcoming new ones.
Mary Peterrson Says:
September 10th, 2010 at 12:35 am
I’ve watched your cooking shows for years Sara on Food Network and PBS. I’ve learned so much from you. Cooking recipes, techniques and what it means to be a real person (daughter, wife, mother and working woman). Keep doing what you’re doing. It works!! Mary from Clarkston, MI
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