Tasty Tomatoes

This post is brought to us by guest blogger Getty Stewart of Veggie Delight and author of Prairie Fruit Cookbook

Like Getty, I love fresh tomatoes.  I’ve included my favourite Manitoba Bruschetta recipe at the bottom of this post. It comes with a Heart Healthy stamp of approval from Heart and Stroke Manitoba.

Leave a comment below telling us your favourite way to use all your home grown tomatoes for a chance to win Getty’s Prairie Fruit Cookbook!

We’ve had an incredible summer filled with hot sunny days – perfect for long days at the lake.  Surprisingly, despite our dry summer, there is a bountiful harvest in the garden.  Especially when it comes to tomatoes – everyone, it seems, has had a great tomato year.

Nothing beats the taste of a toasted tomato sandwich made with the summer’s first homegrown tomato.  That first bite is all you need to remind you why you garden in the first place.

After about 2 weeks of toasted tomato sandwiches, about the time when the tomatoes start ripening a basketful at a time, you’re ready to consider other ways to use up all those tomatoes.

At that point, I start making Bruschetta (recipe below), Fresh Salsa (Salsa Fresca or Pico de Gallo), and several variations of Tomato Soup.

Finally, when there are so many tomatoes that we can’t keep up, I start freezing and canning them.

When it comes to freezing and canning tomatoes there are several options:

  • Peel or don’t peel
  • Remove seeds or don’t remove seeds
  • Chop or don’t chop

There is no technical reason why you should choose one way over the other.  It’s all a matter of personal preference.

I’m a sucker for punishment and prefer to peel, seed and chop tomatoes before freezing or canning them.  That’s how we prefer them in any tomato dishes we make throughout the year and I want the tomatoes I pull out of the pantry or the freezer to be ready to go when I need them.  Better to do the work now than later.

To peel tomatoes score X on the bottom of the tomato, place it in boiling water for 60 seconds, transfer immediately to an ice water bath and voila the skin almost falls off all by itself.

Seeding tomatoes is easy too.  Just slice in half and scoop out the seeds and surrounding liquid.  Tomatoes have a lot of water, by seeding the tomatoes you’ll reduce the amount of liquid that you’ll end up with.  In the end, any recipe in which you use your tomatoes will be less runny or liquidy.

Chopping tomatoes can be done in the food processor – just be careful not to chop them too much or they’ll simply turn to mush.  I prefer small pieces of tomatoes, so I chop them by hand (told you I’m a sucker for punishment).  My friend, who freezes her tomatoes whole, says she just squishes the bag of tomatoes after they’ve thawed to macerate them a little before adding to her recipes.  How do you like your tomatoes?

Finally the tomatoes are ready for canning or freezing.

Canning tomatoes is easy, but time consuming.  You also have to take some safety steps to ensure your final product is safe; luckily, these steps are easy to implement.  Whatever you do, please follow a recipe from a credible source that updates their information with the latest research.  Your grandma’s recipe may need a little updating.  Think of it like this, in your grandma’s day we didn’t wear seat belts either and yes, your grandparents and parents survived.  That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t wear seat belts today.  We know better and it’s easy to take that extra safety step.  The same is true when it comes to preserving food – we know better and it’s easy to take the extra precautions.  Check out the National Centre for Home Food Preservation for more info.

Freezing tomatoes is the fastest and easiest way to process tomatoes IF you have the freezer space.  No need to cook the tomatoes.  Just place your raw – peeled or not peeled, chopped or not chopped, seeded or not seeded tomatoes in convenient sized freezer bags, remove as much air as possible and pop them in the freezer.  That’s it.

Enjoy all those lovely tomatoes – today and in the months to come.

Live Well…Getty

Getty is a Professional Home Economist, mom, gardener, speaker and writer.  She welcomes opportunities to share and express her passion for growing, harvesting and sharing local food with family and community.

She is the founder of Fruit Share a volunteer group that harvests and shares surplus fruit, author of the Prairie Fruit Cookbook: The Essential Guide to Picking, Preserving and Preparing Fruit and blogger at Veggie Delight a gardening blog that shares tips and ideas for growing a family garden in the prairies.



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