What happens when you leave town in the middle of harvest season? Things go a little crazy.
My dad visits my aunt and uncle in Missouri annually and always comes home with lots of stories. He likes to say how come July or August, you don’t dare leave your car unlocked when you park it in the square cause when you come back it’ll be filled with bags of tomatoes and squash.
We’ve always just smiled and nodded–we try to humor the guy. But this year, we had a real summer in Washington with warm weather and sunshine; it’s been crazy. That giant mound of tomato plants I’ve been watching for months has started producing. Maybe that story about the square isn’t too far-fetched.
Now that we have all these silly tomatoes, I can’t just do a happy dance and beam at my gardening prowess. Perhaps I should actually make something with my unexpected bounty.
So I made roasted vege pasta sauce and stuck it in the freezer, then I canned tomato basil pasta sauce, and then I canned some more. Maybe it was time to try something that wouldn’t use just a piddly four or five pounds. I saw a simple recipe that said to drizzle baking sheets with olive oil, add halved tomatoes cut-side down, sprinkle on some salt and pepper and a few herbs, stick them in the oven for 10 hours at 200-degrees, and call it good. That’s my kind of recipe.
After they’d cooled a bit, I pulled off the skins, stuck the tomatoes in bags, and popped them in the freezer. This winter I can add them to pizza, pasta, sandwiches, soups, and casseroles for a bit of intense tomato flavor.
As you can see in the photos above, I grew two different types of paste tomato–different in size, shape, color, and density. I randomly picked up two generic “paste” tomatoes at the super market. You never know what you’ll wind up with. I’m really liking the larger, meatier variety.
Since then I’ve turned 12 pounds into tomato sauce. I’ve learned that removing skins is one thing but removing skins and seeds is a whole other ball game. Let’s just say, my family is going to learn to deal with seeds.
When I came home a few weeks ago, I was surprised to find a giant zucchini hidden behind the tomatoes wedged in next to the fence. This fellow had grown way out of control. While he was too big for a stir-fry, he’d be great for some zucchini bread.
Normally I wouldn’t have peeled zucchini before grating, but this one was just too tough. So I sliced off the edges, and still had plenty left for baking.
Meanwhile the apples are ripe, and all this produce is attracting fruit flies. Seems like a bit of applesauce was in order. I didn’t bother to core or peel the apples, and just ran them through the food mill before processing.
I was pleasantly surprised by the lovely golden color of the sauce. Our last apple tree was a Granny Smith variety, and my homemade sauce was always tinged a sickly green. Baby Girl is selling apples through FFA, so I see more applesauce and apple chips in our future. I think apple pie might also be in order. I really like pie.
My jars have been around for years, and a few chips have stopped a good seal. I think I’ll pick up a few more pint jars, so the tomatoes and the fruit flies don’t get the best of me.
How’s harvest time at your house? Any favorite tomato recipes to share?