Teeming with Toms: Three easy recipes for tomatoes.. October 20, 2016 13:57

Might have overdone it on the tomato growing front... #passata #comingoutofmyears #tomato #homegrown #gardenstyle #vegpatch

A photo posted by Denys & Fielding (@denysandfielding) on

 

Despite the fact that it is mid October, my little veg patch is still teeming with tomatoes. Unbelievable. But with the nights drawing in and the temperatures showing a slow decline, it is unlikely my remaining fruits will ripen and turn red. So, it is time to say goodbye and make the most out of this seasons brilliant crop. 

Those tomatoes that are already 'on the turn' have been added to the fruit bowl. The ethylene in apples and bananas will help them ripen to a lovely, deep shade of red. The ripened fruit have been added to salads, sauces and stews. I've also been drying them out to make 'sun-dried' toms and making passata. The remaining green ones are heading for a chutney. 

Here are the three concoctions I've had bubbling away to enjoy every tomtastic morsel.

Homemade Passata: 

Yes you can buy it. Yes it is cheap. But there is something really nice about making your own passata. You can give it some zing by adding worcester sauce, garlic, chilli etc... as well as freeze it. We've used ours on a host of pizzas, in spaghetti bolognese and chilli. 

My ingredients: 

  • A hefty mixing bowl full of ripened tomatoes. I wasn't fussy about mixing varieties. The more the merrier. 
  • Bay leaves, rosemary and chives from the garden. 
  • Lazy chilli - around a teaspoon full 
  • Garlic, peeled. 
  • Tomato paste
  • Olive Oil
  • Red onion: I used two medium sized ones
  • Worcester sauce - a splash
  • Brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper 

Place the tomatoes and garden herbs & lazy chilli into a blender and whizzed up. Next, heat the olive oil and add the red onion, allowing it to soften on a low / medium heat, then add these into your blender and whizz up. Pour the whole mixture into a large pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer. Start to add in your extra flavours at this point, including the tomato paste, tasting and stirring as you go. A splash of worcester sauce, salt and pepper. Alternatively why not go for something totally different and equally delicious by adding basil or pesto into the mix? Keep simmering away for 15 - 20 minutes until you have the consistency you are after. 

'Sun dried' tomatoes

Er, not sundried. Just chopped in half, hard bits taken out along with the pips and then placed, skin side down, onto one of those plastic baking trays that are non stick. I've been advised by three different people not to use a metal tray but to use something else as the metal will effect the taste. Yuk. 

Next, in a little bowl, mix a handful of salt, dried herbs and pepper. Then sprinkle this over your tomatoes on the tray. Put the oven on low - around 100 degrees and place the tray inside. Leave the oven door open and let them slowly cook and dry out for around 3 hours. Then, take them out, turn them over so that the skin if facing up and repeat. My oven is nothing fancy, but it is fan assisted, so my toms were done and dusted in around 10 hours. Other ovens might mean a 12 hour stint. But drying tomatoes is so low maintenance, you won't notice the time tick by while you are doing other things. 

Green Tomato Chutney  

This is a new one on me, but I found a recipe in an old book I have at home and so followed their recipe. The book is 'Preserve' published by Hamlyn and I love it. In my house, it comes out every year in the build up to Christmas. The recipes are easy and you can experiment a bit with them. The Green Tomato Chutney recipe is a great one for autumn because it includes unripened tomatoes and also cooking apples - which I can snaffle from next door's garden. Perfect.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg of green tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 kilo of onions, peeled and chopped. 
  • 1/2 kilo of cooking apples - peeled, chopped and cored.  
  • Fresh green chilli (although I substitued this for lazy chilli. I am what it says on the tin. Literally). 
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • pinch of ground turmeric 
  • 50g of raisins
  • 250g of soft dark brown sugar
  • 300 ml (1/2 pint) of white wine vinegar

Place the tomatoes, onions, apples and chilli into a large pan. Give it a stir and mix it up. Add in the garlic, ginger, cloves and turmeric. Stir again. Then finally add in the raisins, sugar and vinegar. 

Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat. Cover the pan with a lid and let simmer for 1 1/2 (ish) hours, stirring regularly.  I find mine always takes loads longer than recommended so I just wait until it has thickened up. 

In the meantime, wash jam jars thoroughly and then into the oven, upside down to dry. I put the lot in there, including the lids on around 150 degrees. Then just before they are needed, I take them out and let them cool down for ten minutes so they are just warm. 

Once your chutney is thick and lovely pour or spoon into the jars, cover the surface with a wax paper disc, wax side down and then screw the lid on tight. This chutney needs to mature a bit so leave somewhere cool and dark for three weeks and then store, unopened for 6 - 12 months. Perfect for a Christmas cheese board.