Friday, November 6, 2009


I adore tomatoes, any size, shape or colour, raw, fried or made into soup or sauces, bring them on, I love them all.

Having limited space I grew just three plants in the greenhouse this year, the ever popular Moneymaker plus six more outside. These included "Roma" a wonderful plum tomato with hardly any seeds, "Golden Sunrise" a beautifully flavoured yellow tomato, absolutely gorgeous in salads, "Big Boy" a great big beefsteak and the very lovely "Shirley". Also "Sweet Million" a fantastic cherry tomato I grew in a hanging basket which was just perfect for picking a handful each time you walked past and eating like grapes. With just a little TLC and regular doses of "Tomarite" they all flourished.

This probably sounds rather a large crop for just two people although we do share the fruit with friends and neighbours but I fully believe in the theory "you can't have too much of a good thing". Tomatoes are also so versatile that not a single one gets wasted. I skin and freeze some whole for adding to casseroles during the winter months and make soup and pasta sauces, all easy to do and delicious.

Our favourite pasta sauce recipe is:-

(no need to be accurate with quantities)
Gently fry until soft an onion and two cloves of garlic in little olive oil, throw in a couple of pounds (or thereabouts) of skinned tomatoes (any variety or mixed), one teaspoon of sugar, a good squirt of tomato puree from a tube plus a vegetable stock cube. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes until the tomatoes are really soft and add seasoning as preferred. Then throw in a handful of torn basil leaves, let it simmer for a further couple of minutes, liquidise and enjoy.
I leave the seeds in for us but if you prefer it smooth or if Grandma is coming for dinner and the seeds may get caught in her dentures, then by all means sieve it after liquidising.

The basil, which is excellent with all tomato dishes, I grow all the year round on the kitchen windowsill. Just a pinch of seed in a 3" pot planted every few weeks will yield a constant supply.

All tomato growers, even small ones like us, get to the end of the season with an abundance of green tomatoes and there are several theories on how best to ripen them. I have been advised to box them up with a couple of bananas or wrap individually in newspaper and store in a drawer until ripe. However, that to me is too much like hard work so I simply put them on the conservatory windowsill where 99.9% of them ripen beautifully. Sure, you get the odd squidgy one but does that really matter?.

While I have plenty of unripe tomatoes I do like to make some green tomato chutney and this recipe is well tried and tested and loved by friends and family alike:-

675g (1 & 1/2 lbs) green tomatoes,
450g (1 lb) cooking apples, peeled and chopped
225g (8 oz) onions chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 & 1/2 teaspoon salt
425ml (3/4 pint) pickling malt vinegar
100g (4 oz) sultanas
2 teaspooon of freshly grated ginger (or ground)
400g (14 oz) demara sugar.

Place all ingredients except sugar in a large pan. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 20 minutes or until soft. Add sugar and stir until disolved, stirring occasionally for approximately 1 hour until chutney thickens. Pour into warm, sterilized jars, seal, label and store.
Makes approximately 1.4 litres (2 & 1/2 pints)

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