The Fresh Loaf

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In case you guys didn't know I was nuts...

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Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

In case you guys didn't know I was nuts...

So I'm planting my garden this year for the first time at this house. A couple years ago, while I was pregnant with Rinoa, I had a few tomato plants and a few pepper plants that didn't do too well because they were in an area with poor soil and way too much other stuff. This year I'm tilling up the backyard, finally, and doing things right.


I've noticed that, when I'm pregnant, I'm more prone to excess than when I'm not. I'm not saying that I'm not prone to it normally. Who isn't prone to going to excess at *something* now and again? Usually, though, it's just been too much bread. Easily taken care of when used to feed the birds. This time...things are slightly different.


I went to Wal-Mart. I hate Wal-Mart normally. I prefer buying my stuff at the local grocery store, but I do like going to Sam's Club occasionally...but that's beside the point.


I should get to the point.


I went into their garden section hoping to find a few tomato plants that I liked.


I came home that day with 28 tomato plants and 3 lonely zucchini. I then went to Hy-Vee, one local grocery store, and picked up 12 bell pepper plants and 4 more tomatoes, 4 little yellow squash seedlings. Gonna go back after they mark down some of the more expensive plants and get a few more bell peppers, some cukes, probably some acorn squash, sugar snap peas, and probably some carrots and green beans as well.


The real concern, though, is tomatoes. 32 plants. Add to that the fact that they'll produce right through until my first frost if I let them.


I think I'm going to need some sauce recipes, among other things.


I've thought of sauce (pizza and marinara), drying, canning whole and diced, salsa (I'll have to borrow some jalepenos from a friend). Can't think of anything else to do with them all. Even if you count only 5-6 pounds of tomatoes from each plant (which is conservative, I've heard, with the types I bought)...that's a lot of tomatoes. Canning time comes right around when I'll be 8 months pregnant, too. At least I feel good by then.


Anyone else know what to do with an overabundance of tomatoes? Of course there's giving them away or selling them, and I'm considering that, but first I want to think about what I can do to put them by. May as well get my money's worth.

Comments

xaipete's picture
xaipete

My neighbor has a big garden every year. They store tomatoes in their garage and they seem to keep a long time. We had some cherry tomatoes at our block Christmas party last year--I could believe they came from their garden, but they did.


Another thing you can do is make fried green tomatoes; they are one of my favorites.


You can can, of course, but you can also make fresh tomato sauce and freeze it.


There is also a tomato sauce you can make by baking the tomatoes (Romas I think); I saw Alton Brown make it on one of his shows a number of years ago. It takes a lot of tomatoes because they dry out in the oven.


--Pamela

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Ah, Alton's tomato sauce. I've made that occasionally when Romas are really cheap around here. I didn't pick any of those to grow this year, but I have some regular tomatoes which are apparently good for sauce. I think that if I quarter them, gut them, hit them with a little garlic, olive oil, and fresh herbs, then bake in the oven at 400 for, oh, a half hour to 45 minutes, I should get about the same results. Then it's just a pulse in the food processor from there to make a quick sauce.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I've got 7 plants so far--early girl, roma, cherry, heirloom old German, yellow pear, better boy, and an Imwalle special. I'm contemplating going back for some more variety, so I don't think your crazy, just crazy about tomatoes. I can understand that. I also have some basil, Fresno peppers, and an habanero plant. More will be coming, I'm sure.


--Pamela

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Oh, and 5 of the 32 are the lovely yellow tomatoes: 4 Golden Boy and one lonely yellow cherry.

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Stephanie, you could send them to me! Last year I think we got maybe 4 ripe tomatoes from many plants. We were able to ripen some indoors but it isn't the same as picking them ripe from the vine. I am REALLY trying not to be jealous of your bounty, but up here on Whidbey Island it will never happen. Good for you, A.



SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Hi Stephanie, There is a killer recipe for 'Green Tomatoe Relish' on the http://www.allrecipes.com site.  But I have to say my favorite pickled green tomatoe relish comes from a place called 'The Hush Puppy' in Las Vegas, NV.  their specialty is catfish dinners.  I make up my own version ' no recipe for it sorry..I just go by taste... that comes very close to tasting the same as theirs...it has wedges of green tomatoes, pieces of jalapenos, chunks of onions, sugar and white vinegar...their version is sweet with just enough hot.  I posted a photo of my version.  I just don't think you have enough of green tomatoe relish around...no matter what version you like!  I can't eat fried catfish fillets without it and of coarse don't forget the cornbread and hush-puppies!


Sylvia


xaipete's picture
xaipete

You could also make green tomato jam and pickle small green tomatoes.


You can also make your own sun-dried tomatoes in the trunk of your car.


http://www.pickyourown.org/tomatoes_sun_dried.htm


--Pamela

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Stewed tomatoes are a mainstay in my kitchen.  They're a great base for soups, chili, and my woodstove stew - which is made only in the winter because it is cooked on the woodstove.


Where do you live where you can buy green beans and sugar snap peas as plants? Those are easily grown from seed - the sugar snaps are better when sown directly into the soil and you'd save a ton of money by buying a few packets of seeds.  Burpee's Cherokee Wax (yellow) and Bush Blue Lake are a buck a packet.  Ditto for the sugar snaps.  


I just planted my spinach seeds today; the lettuce and sugar snaps go in tomorrow  - the rest have to wait until June 1, our last frost date.  


 

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Someone also mentioned to me to put some in my food processor with some peppers and onions and use that in chili, which would be an AWESOME stash to have for winter.


Can't wait to have all this stuff ready. I'm looking at water bath canners at the moment.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

than canning them.  You can read about it here.  It sure beats having to sterilize the jars and lids, then wrestle them in and out of the canner, all while keeping the water at a rolling boil in the hottest days of summer.


Paul

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Thanks for the link, Paul. I'm going to try that end of the summer.


--Pamela

ladychef41's picture
ladychef41

So I'm not the ONLY crazed gardener out here. Whew!!! I was really getting concerned! It all started innocently enough with 2 tomato plants and a couple of pepper plants... I have just walked into the house after buying number 16 tomato plant and number 18 pepper plant.... and I have no where to plant them!! TAhhhh, but I bought a few 5 gallon containers at the nursery so I have just once again extended my planting area!!!! This goes along with the "salad tables" I've made this year to house my strawberries, spinach, lettuce, several varieties of snap beans and brussels sprouts. Not to mention and all the other containers I have used! Along with my every present herb garden. I am in heaven!!!


I make a baked tomato sauce that is wonderful. It may be Alton Brown's, but I have adjusted it to make it to my liking. I season it with olive oil and fresh herbs from the garden and make them at 400 until they get mushy and just start to carmalize. I used to freeze it, but now that I have gotten back into canning, I am looking forward to "putting them up" in mason jars this year!!!


I am getting ready to pick my first bell peppers and tomatoes this weekend and I can't wait! Have already been enjoying the strawberries!


I'm not just happy that I can tell my family and friends that I'm not the only one afflicted with "vegetable gardening addiction"!!!

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Stephen Smith, of StephenCooks.com, offers this "pesto" recipe, based on baked tomatoes.


I haven't tried this, but I can vouch for his Roasted Butternut Squash and Sage Carbonara!


Paul

mredwood's picture
mredwood

You have some great ideas and you probably will do most of them. The freezing will be the easiest. Another easy is drying. Not just one of your run of the mill round dehydrators but maybe an excalibur 9 shelf or more. These dehydrators are quick and efficient because of their design. They dry beautifully. They are about $200.00, but you will make up that probably the first year. You can hook it up outside on a table and sit to process, slice the tomatoes and anything else. Dried tomatoes are really good to munch on and add to the frozen ones when making sauce at a later date. They can also be added to tomato juice when cooking later as the tomato juice might be the quickest, easiest method to put up a lot of tomatoes. Your peppers can stay in the ground longer maybe put plastic over them to extend the time you have to deal with them. I have recently read that peppers are perennial. You can dig them up and bring them in. Not hybrids of course. 


Sounds like a yummy time in the old town.


 

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

  As a matter of fact tonight's dinner is Ratatouille from last summer's harvest. I froze about (8) 13 cup containers. It's a great dish to use up all kinds of produce. One of our favorite dinners is polenta as a base, topped with the Ratatouille and then mozzarella (ala lasagna style) and of course and some garlic bread (now this post is legal  :  )


I also oven roast tomatoes with herbs, salt and a bit of olive oil. Once dried, they are bagged and then frozen. I use them on pizza, in sauces, pasta salads.


Betty

wellbeing12's picture
wellbeing12

You can dehydrate them whole, or make a tomato sauce,add herbs and spices or not,  cook it down some, dehydrate it, and/or make a powder of it.  This can be used as a base for spagetti (can't remember spelling) sauce, chile, or other types of sauce.  It is easy to store this way, and doesn't take up much room.