September 1st, 2009

Tomato

What To Do with a Glut of Tomatoes

I have been harping on all summer about my fantastic kitchen garden. We have taken full advantage of a small space and grown as many different fruits and vegetables that we could physically fit in.

Mr.P has an affinity for tomatoes and has collected seeds for quite some time, he planted the seeds in April of this year and low and behold we have had tomato plants all over the place. We planted 28 tomato plants in our garden and gave a few seedlings to good homes.

Unfortunately we planted too many in the space we have and did not give the plants enough room to grow and bear fruits to their full potential. Lesson has been learned and we will certainly do things differently next year, that is the beauty of planting and learning as you go along.

Despite all that we have harvested 4kg of ripe tomatoes over the weekend and there are about another 6 kg of green ones still on the plants.

It’s fantastic, as we feel that we have actually provided food for ourselves. The next step is to preserve this bounty for the winter months to come.

I have written three basic recipes on how to preserve your glut of tomatoes. I love all three as they have different uses. The tomato, ginger and sultana chutney recipe is one of my trusty old friends. This recipe has come along with me for many years and stems from my restaurant days. I have made so many different variations of this one recipe, it’s easy as long as the basic principles remain the same.

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The bottled tomato sauce is a stunner, one you can make and bottle and utilise in so many different dishes. From a simple tomato soup or forming the base for a rich and delicious ragu. My freezer is bursting and I cannot fit another thing in and for that reason I had to start preserving my tomatoes in sterilized bottles, it works perfectly providing that you sterilize the bottles correctly.

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The last recipe is one that I have already featured in a previous posting, it’s such a good tip that I could not ignore it. For the semi-dried tomatoes, I wash and cut them in half, season with salt and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, then dry the tomatoes in a cool oven for a about three hours. Once semi-dried I place them in sterilized bottles and cover them with oil and keep them in the fridge till needed. They will keep for up to one month chilled as the oil locks out oxygen. Use the semi-dried tomatoes in risottos, pasta dishes, on warm salads or pizzas,  the list is never ending.

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Tomato, Ginger and Sultana Chutney

  • 150ml white wine vinegar
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50g golden sultanas
  • 500g ripe tomatoes, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1tbs shredded ginger
  • 1 tsp chopped thyme
  • 3tbs tomato puree
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1tsp black onion seeds

Sterilize the glass jars.

Prepare the tomatoes, wash and roughly chop them.

Crush the garlic and dice the peeled onion.

Place the vinegar, sugar, cardamom pods, onion, ginger, seasoning, crushed garlic and coriander seeds in a large saucepan over low heat to dissolve the sugar.

Once the sugar has dissolved bring the mixture to a rapid boil and boil until it becomes a syrup. You will notice that the bubbles becomes laboured and heavier.

Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, bay leaf and sultanas and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.

Cook until the chutney is the right consistency. I like my chutney thick and quite dry but it's your choice, if you would like to test your chutneys setting point, place a small plate in the freezer, pour a teaspoon of chutney on the ice cold plate, let it cool for 5 minutes and then you will have an  indication of what it would look like once cooled.

Once your happy with your consistency add the chopped thyme and onion seeds, adjust the seasoning if needed.

Let the chutney cool for 10 minutes before you fill your sterilized jars.

Makes approximately 600g of chutney

Food Fanatics Tips

As I have already mentioned I love this recipe as it's a fantastic basic recipe that could be adapted easily. For a pear or mango chutney I use the basic recipe and replace the tomatoes with peeled and roughly diced pears or mangoes and replace the tomato puree with 1tsb finely sliced and de-seeded red chillies. I also add a tiny pinch of saffron to the chutney to give it that golden rich colour, be conservative and only add a tiny pinch!

Semi-dried Tomatoes

  • 2kg ripe tomatoes
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Oil to keep the tomatoes in, either olive or sunflower oil

Preheat the oven to 100°C and place two large cooling racks on two large baking trays.

Wash the tomatoes and cut them in halves or quarters, the smaller the size the quicker they will dry.

Place the cut tomatoes on the cooling racks, lightly season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper and scatter the thyme leaves  over the tomatoes.

Place the tray in the preheated oven for approximately three hours. The length of time that you dry the tomatoes depends on the amount you are drying and also the way that you have cut them. I set a timer for two hours to begin with and then check them and increase the drying time to to suit my needs.

For preserving them I would like them dry enough but not completely shriveled nor juicy and wet.

Once the tomatoes are semi-dried remove the tray from the oven.Sterilize the jars that will be used to store them .

Wearing claen rubber gloves, place the warm tomatoes into the sterilized jars and cover with oil. Keep the bottles in the fridge. I use olive oil and once the tomatoes have been used you will have tomato infused oil which makes perfect dressings for pasta dishes or salads.

Makes about 750 gms of semi-dried tomatoes

Tomato Sauce For Keeps

  • 1.5kg tomatoes
  • 3 large white onions
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3tbs tomato puree
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 150ml water
  • 2tbs cater sugar
  • Sprigs of fresh thyme and oregano and fresh whole bay leaves

Sterilize glass jars.

Wash the tomatoes and cut them in half.

Crush the garlic and roughly dice the peeled onions.

Heat a large saucepan with the oil and saute the onion, crushed garlic , bay leaves and seasoning until golden brown.

Add the tomato puree and sugar and cook for 3 minutes, add the prepared tomatoes and water.

Bring the tomatoes to a the boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Place a food mill over a clean saucepan and pass the tomato sauce through the food mill, discard the skins and bring the sauce back to the boil.

Divide the fresh sprigs of herbs between the jars, then pour the sauce into the sterilized glass jars or bottles, seal and cool.

Makes approximately 2L tomato sauce

Sterilising the jars:

This is one of the most crucial steps to successful preserving and you should never cut corners with this one. If you not do this properly you might find your preserved goods becomes mouldy and ferments sooner than expected. Preheat the oven to 100°C. Wash the jars in hot soapy water; do not dry them with a tea towel. Place the damp jars and lids on a clean baking tray; try not to touch the jars and lids on the insides. Place them in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes. Let the jars cool slightly before you scoop in the cooked product.

Never pour cold liquid in to hot glass jars, you will end up with broken glass. Take extra care when sterilising the jars, if they are overheated they might explode.


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43 Comments to “What To Do with a Glut of Tomatoes”

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  1. Barbara Phillips says:

    Although tomatoes are an acid fruit, there may still be a risk of botulism if kept in an anaerobic environment (in oil).

    Botulism spores are resistant to the heating that is recommended in this recipe. For food to be handled like this, it must be acidified to prevent botulism spores germinating in the anaerobic conditions.

  2. Madalene says:

    Dear Barbara,

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge, I agree and for that reason recommend to keep them in the fridge.

    Thank you for sharing.
    Maddy

  3. Madalene says:

    Hi Monica,

    What a good idea!? My mother used to do the following. She blanched the tomatoes in hot boiling water for 30 seconds, then dunk them in ice water, peel the skins then she packed them laying down in a food plastic bag about 12 in a bag and freeze them laying flat. When she needed them for stews of tomato sauces she would take them out of the freezer and cook.

    Hope this help.

    Best wishes,
    Madalene

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