LAKE MACBRIDE— A friend declined my offer of a bag of tomatoes yesterday, indicating we have entered that time of garden tomato abundance— ready or not.
It has been a mixed tomato bag during this summer of cool nights and no rain. The heirloom tomatoes are producing, but traditional varieties, notably beefsteak, are not doing as well. My garden is producing more because of its diversity of seeds (12 varieties), and large number (32+) of plants. There will be no tomato shortage in Big Grove.
After abundance, and limited outlets to get rid of the fruit, the pressing urgency to preserve what we can’t eat fresh has arrived. A couple of thoughts about that.
A friend suggested frozen cherry tomatoes hold up well, so a tray or two will be devoted to an experiment. I have my doubts, but it is worth a try.
The Roma-type tomatoes will go into sauce and juice. The pantry already has enough diced and whole tomatoes to last until next season, so the focus will be on thick tomato sauce to use with pasta and in chili. The juice is a by-product, and the thought of discarding it gains no traction, so it will be canned in quarts.
Roma is also a good tomato for salsa and hot sauce. There was plenty canned in previous years to meet our needs. I should say my current needs, since I am the only person in our household who eats it. At the same time, by following lessons learned at our CSA, there will be a bumper crop of Serrano and jalapeno peppers, which shouldn’t go to waste. Some form of canned salsa or hot sauce seems inevitable.
I planted a smaller tomato for canning whole, but they haven’t begun to come in yet. If and when they do, I’ll execute the plan and add them to the storage shelf.
It is tomato heaven or hell, depending upon your perspective. It’s all good here, although it adds more work to an already busy season— part of sustaining a life in a turbulent world.