Category Archives: Tomato

The Last Tomato

 Tomato reviews

A big green Omar’s Lebanese tomato will ripen to a juicy pink, almost red color. The last tomato of the season is also the biggest one of the year. As the green tomatoes slowly ripen, we’ll have home-grown tomatoes for at least a week.

The best of Dr. Carolyn Male’s extensive 1995 heirloom tomato trials, Omar’s Lebanese Tomato.

This is the day a gardener runs out to the garden gathering up the last vegetable remnants of the season. The kitchen counter is heaped with any tomato with a touch of color. They will ripen gradually, depending how ripe they are when picked.

Garden season is nearly done for me. There’s still sweet potatoes to dig and garlic to plant. The stars of the garden, tomatoes, herbs and peppers are finished in the garden.

Best Big Tomato

Omar’s Lebanese

Omar’s Lebanese is an heirloom variety from Omar Saab of Lebanon. This pink indeterminate grows big tomatoes on heavy vines that must be strongly supported or staked.

An heirloom grown by farmers in a Lebanese hill town, it is a juicy and meaty beefsteak type tomato. The regular leaf plant produces  irregularly shaped 1-pound+ tomatoes mid to late season.

Some of the tomatoes in my garden suffered from blight. But Omar’s Lebanese was producing hefty fruit on healthy vines right up until the freeze.

Pick all tomatoes with a hint of color. Extend the tomato season by a week or two.

It’s been a great run, home-grown tomatoes June to October.

 

 

 

 

Best Dwarf Tomato

 Bush 506 Container Tomato

Bush 506 is drought tolerant and blemish free.

Bush 506 dwarf plant, full-sized tomatoes.

The earliest tomato and one of the latest tomatoes on the deck is the Bush 506 Container Tomato. This dwarf bush tomato plant will only reach 18-24″ tall and has a medium-large sized red juicy fruits.

They are great for container growing as the plants stay compact and have thick, upright stems producing 9 oz. fruits. Bush 506 is a good choice for dwarf size plants that produces full-sized tomatoes.

Bush 506 produced the earliest and latest tomatoes of the season.

Best new cocktail tomato

Red Racer F1, cocktail tomato

Red Racer, perfect red, round, tomatoes

On June 7, I planted 3 tomato plants sent by Harris seed. I planted the Red Racer 2018 AAS Edible – Vegetable Winner. Red Racer, a cocktail size tomato, producing small, round red fruits.

Although larger than cherry or grape tomatoes, cocktail tomatoes are a smaller variety tomato. These round, red, blemish free cocktail tomatoes have a good sweet/acid balance.

The compact determinate plants produce fruit a week earlier than comparison plants. They thrived in the planter boxes on a deck in the full sun. Red Racer is a great choice for small spaces and container gardens.

Today’s Harvest Basket 10/19

Basket of Gold

Pineapple tomatoes, eggplant, golden bell peppers.

The harvest basket is loaded with end-of-the-season vegetables. Four of the tomatoes hover just around the one-pound mark.

One of my favorite heirloom tomatoes. The beautiful yellow fruit with red marbling through the flesh. The flavor is very sweet and fruity; good yields!

Simply replace red tomatoes with yellow in your favorite recipe.

One slice of these big tomatoes will cover a slice of bread. Tomato sandwiches, BLT’s and fresh eating are where these tomatoes shine. The late glut of 1-pound globes will also make a small batch of golden salsa.

 

 

 

 

 

About the Seed

I purchased the original Pineapple tomato seed from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. This year, I am going to save seed. These are beautiful tomatoes, though not always high yielding. Try them.

These are big plants that need heavy staking. Pineapple tomatoes are late season producers, sometimes weighing as much as 2 pounds. While some tomato plants succumbed to blight, this plant remained healthy all season.

Also grown from seed:

Long yellow eggplant is a mild, prolific Asian eggplant. The peppers are sweet Golden Cal Wonder Peppers.

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Today’s Harvest Basket 10/17

Tomatoes in October

Tomatoes weighing a pound to and ounce fill the basket. Makings for the last garden fresh ratatouille and gazpacho are in this basket.

October 2017 tomato, pepper and eggplant harvest is the biggest all year. Everyday from now on is borrowed time. Green tomatoes just a few days from ripening can be picked just before that first frost warning.

The dehydrator is filled with tomatoes. Some will be made into tomato powder. It will thicken and enrich soups and sauces. Plus, this dehydrated bounty takes up very little room. A good thing since the pantry and freezer are loaded.

All the tomatoes and peppers that the family will eat from now till next summer, are canned, dried or frozen. I bought some of the produce at the farmers market, including onions, corn and green beans. I know where this food came from and how it is grown.

True homesteading isn’t possible in our case. But eating locally grown, tomatoes all year is possible. That includes fresh tomatoes for 5 or 6 months, plus, all the salsa, pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato soup we will eat for one year.

The canned, dried or frozen tomatoes will go into, chili, soups, stew, enchiladas, and casseroles. It’s comforting to know that we won’t have to buy any tasteless mass market tomatoes or imported peppers all year.

Tomato soup made fresh from scratch.

Whole paste tomatoes are frozen. On a cold snowy day the full bag will simmer on the stove top into something “tomatoey”. Maybe a dark, thick tomato sauce simmered low and slow, or vegetable soup.

These fresh picked heirloom tomatoes will be savored fresh as insalata Caprese, ratatouille, gazpacho and in salads.

There are a few more tomatoes, peppers, eggplant. The only other produce left in the garden are herbs and sweet potatoes. Butternut squash is curing on the covered porch.

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Today’s Harvest Basket 10/13

Late tomatoes picked early.

Cooler weather slows the ripening process, stretching the season.

One of the reasons I still have tomatoes in October is that the transplants went into the ground in July, ensuring an extended season.

These tomatoes were picked early and green, but with a little color. The only reason to pick them early is to keep the squirrels away from the last of the home-grown tomatoes. Pick tomatoes any time after they have a little color and they will continue to ripen.

In a few days, this tomato will be red and ripe.

I am not a fan of fried green tomatoes, or any fried food. So, picking tomatoes in hope of  home-grown heirlooms is our preference. Later, when the frost warning is posted, I’ll gather green tomatoes for a green tomato salsa as the 2017 tomato finale.

By mid October, garden tomatoes can be long gone, especially in drought years. We are lucky to have tomatoes in the garden, in containers and even a dwarf tomato in planter boxes on the deck. Most  are eaten fresh, but the cherry tomatoes go in the dehydrator.

Dehydrated cherry tomato halves are my version of the too-pricey gourmet specialty, sun-dried tomatoes. The sweet and intensely flavored tomato bits will go into soups, sauces and chili this winter.

It is time to start collecting seed from of my biggest and best tomatoes. The pantry is full of salsa, pasta sauces, tomato soup, and pickled tomatoes for winter use. I have  grown, canned, dried and frozen every tomato our family will eat this year.

Favorite tomato recipes on my pinterest page. Tomato Everything and Canning.

Plus, read Ten tips for the biggest tomatoes.

In 3 days, these yellow-green tomatoes will be as bright orange and juicy as the 4th tomato.

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Today’s Harvest Basket 9/28

The Tomato Basket is full

The yellow ones that are still a little green weigh about a pound each.

It’s been a few days since I could be in the garden, so when I went out today, I found an abundance of tomatoes in all sizes, colors and shapes.

Some of the big tomatoes are picked green to keep them from the squirrels. Big ripe tomatoes are also a favorite of the squirrel gang here at the Hobson Estate. Once tomatoes start to turn color, go ahead and pick.

Tomatoes are not pretty this time of the year. But they are still tasty and ideal for juicing and smoothies. Some of these are destined to become spiced tomato jam. The recipe is perfect for small batch  canning.

Ball® freshTECH Automatic Home Canning System is an easy way to prepare small batches. It’s safer for me than trying to haul heavy canners and boiling water. I make small batches of salsa, jam, tomato sauce all summer as I collect enough tomatoes to can.

Small tomatoes

Six pints of cherry tomatoes went into the dehydrator. This version of sun-dried tomatoes, will add richness to any recipe. If you are looking to add layers of flavor to a dish, try adding the sweet, intense flavor of dried tomatoes.

Grape, cherry and pear tomatoes come in a rainbow of colors.

Pickled Cherry Tomatoes

6 cups cherry tomatoes
6 big sprigs of fresh dill, rosemary, or thyme
3 cloves of garlic sliced in half
2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt

Prepare and sterilize three-pint jars, lid and rings.

Pack the jars with the tomatoes, herbs, garlic, dividing each ingredient evenly among the jars.

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, salt and sugar over medium-high heat until all the ingredients are boiling. Using a funnel, pour the hot liquid into the jars, leaving about a half-inch of headspace.

Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Look for container varieties for small space gardening.

Cherry tomatoes are the first to ripen at the beginning of the season. When the full size tomatoes begin producing, the cherries go into the food dehydrator.

These over achievers will keep producing until the first freeze. It’s worth having at least one cherry tomato plant in every garden or patio.

 

 

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Today’s Harvest Basket 9/2

Peppers kick into high gear, watering required.

All these vegetables are grown from seed.

Cherry tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, Swiss chard, Padron peppers, bell and, Anaheim.

Peppers, growing in the garden or in containers, do better when the weather gets cooler.

Padron, little one inch long peppers, could be called surprise peppers. Or, Russian Roulette peppers. These are a mild tasty pepper. Most of the time. But now and then, WOW! you get a hot one.

Randomly Hot

Blistered Padron Peppers

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Padrón or shishito peppers
Course sea salt

Heat large skillet over high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil. Add half of the peppers, tossing to cook until peppers are softened and blistered. You may cook in multiple batches in a single layer, not over crowding.

Empty skillet onto a warmed platter, add half the salt. Repeat, blistering the rest of the peppers in more hot oil. Add more salt. Serve right away.

Black Bell Peppers

There is a big color choice of bell peppers in the garden. Red, yellow, green, purple, milk chocolate color and these beautiful black peppers. The plants are loaded with medium-sized thick-walled sweet peppers.

All the bell peppers taste alike, some bigger or thicker. Regardless of color, peppers not eaten fresh are chopped or cut into strips and frozen for winter use. Freeze chopped peppers in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, pop peppers into a heavy zip lock bag and return to freezer. Easy to do.

Cherry tomatoes

Pickled cherry tomatoes with rosemary and thyme.

Cherry tomatoes are the first to ripen in the summer. As full-sized tomatoes come on, the cherries just keep producing until frost.

I dehydrate most of them, making sun-dried tomatoes. These little jelly jars are filled with tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, vinegar and salt. These pickled cherry tomatoes will be served on appetizer trays or anti pasta platters.

Peppermint Stick Chard

This chard is heat tolerant and pretty enough to be in flower containers or planted in the garden. I use chard leaves like spinach in casserole dishes, vegetable lasagna, of enchiladas.

Stems can be pickled like Jardiniere. I just pop the stems in an empty jar of pickle juice after I’ve eaten all the Jardiniere. The chard stems become a crispy refrigerator pickle in a couple of days.

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Today’s Harvest Basket 8/27

Summer color explodes

Peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, onions

I grow just a few eggplant because I believe it’s best fresh. Canned or frozen eggplant is always disappointing. Ratatouille and baked Eggplant Parmesan are my favorites.

Charred Anaheim peppers.

Anaheim peppers and poblanos are beautiful and plentiful this year, especially now that the weather has cooled a bit. These mildly hot peppers get charred on the grill and then chopped and frozen.

As the peppers are needed, I pop a cube of frozen peppers into whatever I’m cooking. Fresh roasted poblanoes go into my salsa. That’s the heat level perfect for my salsa.

 

Peppers are growing well in the raised bed garden and in 5-gallon buckets on the deck. Sweet bell peppers are red, black, chocolate, golden and green. The long Anaheim peppers are mildly hot and juicy green and continue to ripen to a bright red.

Charred, peeled, and chopped Anaheim peppers are easy to freeze in cubes.

When peppers are charred and peeled, remove the seeds and stem. Chop peppers and pack in cubes, freeze. Once frozen, store cubes in heavy-duty ziplock bags.

I’m getting a few tomatoes – if I pick them early. Before the squirrels get them.

Tomato Tarte Tatin with caramelized onion on puff pastry.

Tomatoes for salsa and marinara, soup are purchased at the Farmers Market. We pick enough home-grown tomatoes for fresh eating. I’m buying tomatoes, “canners,” for making winter time tomato dishes because I do not buy tomatoes in the winter.

Cherry and pear tomatoes seem like the perfect choice for Tomato Tarte Tatin. I’ve made a fast and easy version using puff pastry. Choose a recipe to fit your tastes, there are several versions on my Pinterest tomato page.

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Today’s Harvest Basket 7/30

July 30, Harvest Basket

Eggplants, sweet peppers, Anaheim and poblano green chile peppers, giant heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, sweet onions.

Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, onion

Eggplant at last!

Finally, the eggplants are plentiful. That completes the ingredient list for ratatouille. Ratatouille is a showcase of summer garden in one main dish. By the time all the ingredients are assembled, the dish is big enough to ensure leftovers. I believe the dish is better the next day.

This vegetable casserole is great served with rice. I make a slightly under cooked version of this and freeze it. One snowy winter day, I’ll enjoy my homegrown taste of summer.

Julia Child’s Ratatouille

Eggplants* grown in a container on the deck.

Tomato Tarte Tatin

Cherry tomato pie

I love cherry tomatoes, they start producing early and just keep on growing till first frost. With the full size tomatoes coming on strong, cherry tomatoes are good for dehydrating.

Mix colors and shapes of cherry tomatoes for a mix of sweet and tart tomato flavors.

Easy, fast, tomato tart suitable for serving at any meal. The tart is a lighter version of tomato pie. Tomato Tarte Tatin is a simple summer-only treat.

This is a great way to use up a lot of cherry tomatoes. I used a mix of red and yellow cherry and pear tomatoes. Caramelize a small onion, and fill the skillet of onions with a single layer of little tomatoes. Cover with a layer of puff pastry. Bake tart until crust is puffed and golden, about 30 minutes.

Cool tart in skillet 10 minutes. Loosen pastry around the outside of the skillet. Place large platter over skillet. Hold skillet and platter firmly together and invert, allowing tart to settle onto platter. Garnish with fresh chopped basil and Parmesan.

*   Container Eggplant Little Prince grown from Renee’s Garden Seed.

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Julia’s Ratatouille

The Ratatouille harvest basket.

Ratatouille makings. Tomato, eggplant, peppers, squash.

An old fashioned vegetable dish, ratatouille is a combination of all the things I grow in my garden. Julia’s Ratatouille is garden gold in your freezer.

Once you master a great dish like ratatouille, you become confident enough to try variations.

I can hear Julia Child talking about this dish. The full name of the stewed vegetable dish is Ratatouille Niçoise. Her recipe is the classic, start there and then adapt it to your taste.

It’s time to make ratatouille when there is an abundance of eggplant in the garden. Usually the last main crop vegetable to produce in my vegetable patch, eggplant is the star of my version. If your don’t like eggplant then leave it out of the recipe. 

This dish very quickly uses up the seasonal glut of produce that happens in August. By now, I have all the zucchini, tomatoes and eggplant that I can eat. I grow every vegetable that goes into this simple French peasant dish.

This dish is a celebration of my garden bounty. It’s a thanksgiving meal at the peak of the growing season.

Cabin fever cure

Make a double batch because this stew reheats well for the next day or hoard it for your lunches. Make this dish and freeze it. This winter, when the snow is falling,  a reheated ratatouille meal will taste like a garden party in your mouth.

Reading seed catalogs while eating a steamy bowl of home-grown and homemade ratatouille is a ritual guaranteed to cure cabin fever. That vegetable casserole inspires my wintertime seed order.

Julia’s Ratatouille is garden gold in your freezer, A true example of your garden prowess.This versital vegetable casserole can be a featured entre, a side dish, lunch for many cold winter days.

I freeze it in portions for one or two.Serve it over noodles or rice for a heartier meal. Add a slice of crusty bread. Make plans to go to Paris some day.

Here is my version:

Ratatouille home-grown and homemade  IMG_2132

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A gardeners final day of winter.

A slow cooked pork stew on a snowy day tastes even better loaded with foods from last summer’s garden. One tasty stew addition to the stew pot is sweet potatoes. Loaded with root vegetables potatoes and sweet potatoes, plus garlic, onions and carrots. Mild and sweet yellow sweet potatoes and homegrown garlic are from the garden.

White and sweet potatoes make this rich pork stew an even hardier winter fare.

White and sweet potatoes make this rich pork stew an even hardier winter fare.

 

 

From the summer farmers market: locally grown shiitake mushrooms – dried in the dehydrator and stored in plastic ziplock bags.

Home made tomato soup, several versions of stew and chili are wintertime mainstays here at the Hobson Estate.

Home grown tomatoes, garlic and peppers enhance the flavors of pork chili.

Home grown tomatoes, garlic and peppers enhance the flavors of pork chili. photo PBH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we wrap up winter, it’s inventory time for the deep freezer and pantry. We ran out of salsa around the first of the year. So, I need to grow more tomatoes (plus, onions, garlic, peppers, herbs)

We need more salsa, crushed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, sun dried tomatoes, even more tomato soup.

We need more salsa, crushed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, sun dried tomatoes, even more tomato soup.

Today, I think, “I can never have too many tomatoes.” In August, that will be a different story.

Paste tomatoes, Arkansas traveler, Giant Martian, Gold Medal

Paste tomatoes, Arkansas traveler, Giant Martian, Gold Medal

August:

“What was I thinking!?”

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