On tomatoes (a mini-confession)

P1000738The near-nightly occurrence.  The handmade knife was a surprise (read:  off-registry) wedding gift, and I SO love it.  It’s by a metalsmith somewhere in the Cascades, in Washington or Oregon.  If anyone knows the maker, lemme know:  I adore the thing.  It is stamped “MH”,  and it’s a foot long, with a 4 1/2″ high blade.

Coming to the end of the season, I do feel like I have spent the last four months chopping up tomatoes, and I wouldn’t be exaggerating.  Between our own garden’s output (extreme), the school garden’s output (dimmed by late blight but still prolific) and the gleanings from some local farms, the tomatoes were absolutely crazy this year.  I believe we made close to 100 quarts of salsa and chopped tomatoes and pasta sauce *just* for the school, and then there’s our own larder that I am too scared to list.


Brandywine tomatoes ripening on the kitchen window

For a woman whose family members won’t even EAT a raw tomato (salsa’s the one exception) it is a bit crazy that I grow as many as I do.  Considering the 2008 tally was likewise as big and there were still quarts of juice, sauce, ketchup, barbecue sauce and plain tomatoes downstairs when I began to harvest in 2009, I am beginning to believe I am slightly crazy.  Tomatoes *love* the greenhouse conditions, and I *love* growing tomatoes is my only excuse.

I think the blight elsewhere also got me going.  Well, I thought, at least they’re working for ME. Some kind of survivalist tendency or something, some ghost of Depressions past.

I am kind of happy to see the tomatoes go, though.

Except there IS this last bit of green harvest that has yet to ripen:P1010352

Chop chop!

19 responses to “On tomatoes (a mini-confession)

  1. Yipes! Just thinking of all those tomatoes has me wiped, though it would be a delicious kind of wiped to think of eating them in the middle of a snow-storm 🙂
    The green tomatoes – are you thinking of letting them ripen, or using them in their green stage? I did a side dish of green tomatoes and new potatoes, and another of some green tomato salsa with polenta over the past week. I almost like cooked green tomatoes better than cooked red ones!

  2. i had to admit that i’m insanely jealous. after tending my 40 tomato plants (plus 40 others that i gave away) from birth in march, they all died to blight by late september. i canned six pints of sauce, and we ate lots of salsa for august and early september, but that was all. everyone said i’d be canning tomatoes enough for an army, and sadly, that was not true.

    next year, i hope!

  3. I’m jealous too! My plants didn’t produce well and just when I thought I would get to harvest the meager few we moved. I live in hope that next year’s garden fares better and I am blessed with a harvest like yours.

  4. Maybe if you get another glut you could set up a farm stand at the school and make it a fundraiser? I used to sell tomatoes in Arizona when I was the only gardener. . .

  5. What about piccalilli with the green ones? It does involve slicing, buy may be less mundane than chopping, ha ha! My family loves it! I’d be happy to share my great grandmother’s recipe if you are interested.

  6. Green tomatoes are da bomb in curry!

  7. “I think the blight elsewhere also got me going. Well, I thought, at least they’re working for ME. Some kind of survivalist tendency or something, some ghost of Depressions past.”

    We also had good luck with the tomatoes this year and I’m just smiling knowing that I’m not the only one who had this feeling!

  8. That knife is beautiful, a real treasure – if you ever find out who made it, I’d love to know.
    Our tomatoes got seriously hurt by LB, but there was some consolation in not having to do so much canning… We do have a few storage tomatoes though, but they and the tomato sauce will have to be tightly rationed…

  9. The blight hit us hard. We had been spoiled (at least as far as tomato production) by 2 very dry summers in a row, and then caught off guard by the extreme wetness and rampant blight this year. We’ll be doing all of our tomato-growing in the hoophouse next summer, and hope to experience tomato overwhelm once again! It’s such a decadent, luscious feeling, having too many tomatoes. I miss it!

  10. I wish we had that many tomatoes! We did not have a blight or anything; it was just crazy weather! Some did ok, and some didn’t.
    I’m glad that I found your blog as I will check back often!!

  11. I realized last year that I am completely obsessed with growing tomatoes and this past summer we increased our tomato plants to 60 in the garden and about 15 in the greenhouse. I have a suburban backyard where all of this is and I’ve harvested hundreds of pounds of tomatoes that we’ve made and canned many jars of reg. sauce, roasted sauce, salsa, tomato/tomatillo salsa, chopped tomatoes, whole tomatoes. Haven’t canned any ketchup or juice with the other items but have 60 plants hanging in my garage to get the green ones ripe. May do some ketchup with those.

    Amazing year out west for tomatoes! I still want more and have some going strong in our little greenhouse. I also feel like I have the depression era mindset because I just want to grow and put up as much food for my family as I can!

  12. “For a woman whose family members won’t even EAT a raw tomato …”





    No tomato and cheese sandwiches? No cherry tomatoes with garlic hummus? No tomato and cucumber salad with fresh basil leaves, sea salt and ground black pepper and EVO? No just-ripe tomato eaten like an apple?!

    If eating raw tomatoes is wrong, I don’t want to be right!

  13. MC, polenta! Yum. Yeah, I don’t have much of a plan with the tomatoes (have enough green tomato chutney for a while) but come to think of it my yearly consumption of fried green ones is pretty low this year! Mmm.

    Serina, well, keep your numbers high next year so you can put away 2 years’ worth, should this ever happen to you again. Like I mentioned, it got our school tomatoes hard, and your garden proves it’s in the area so…hopefully it won’t be so cold and wet next year.

    Ms Tipi, well, goodness knows I hope you have time to garden with all the building you are doing. And yeah: moving DOES kind of put a damper on one’s garden plans, because, well, gardens don’t really like to move!

    Stef, hmm. Farmstand. We shall see! The kids could certainly sell to the line of pick-up parents after school every day…but they probably don’t want to cut into their salsa rations!

    Liz, I am laughing because I LOVE chopping, and slicing too! Your GREAT grandmother’s recipe? Wow what a treasure! I would love it; could you email it to me?

    Emily, yum, curry…sigh! Is it dinner yet?

    Erin, I had to say it, even though I knew it wasn’t a universally stellar year for everyone…so, glad I’m not alone and that you piped up 🙂 !

    Well Leigh I am quite sure you were thoughtful enough to have plenty of seed saved. That’s one thing that has made me a bit wary about seed-saving tomatoes this year: is the blight saved too? There were a couple of tomato plants that survived the onslaught in the school garden and I wondered if I was squandering a resource by not saving them.

    Milkweedy, decadent, certainly! I will say the tomatoes grown in the greenhouse are surprisingly uniform and pretty, hardly any splitting or catfacing and no sunburn. Same with peppers, okra, and eggplant. All good!!

    Ulrike, I am glad you found me too! Yeah it’s fun, growing all kinds of things here…and it’s mighty tasty too.

    Nature Deva, goodness, do you think it’s because we’re parents that we’re this crazy? I mean, when I was a city girl I wasn’t so obsessed with the Keep Everything mentality but now it’s just madness. LOVE tomatoes. And yes, try some ketchup!! Roast the fruits first in the oven and then make it in a wide skillet on the stove, yum.

    TELL ME ABOUT IT, Firefly. It’s quite crazy (crazy!) but to our girl’s credit she keeps *trying* to like them. And yes, salsa works just fine, as does tomato juice (go figure) and tomato soup which is really tomato-ey in flavor so I just scratch my head. (My favorite? Tomato sandwich on homemade toast, homemade mayonnaise, and sylvetta arugula, the really hot, skinny leaved kind…)

  14. Yikes! My tomato plants got hit first with the extreme heat in June that we had, then again with rust. Pooey. Even my second batch hasn’t gotten very far; I think not enough sun, and now it’s too cold I think. I’ll try again next year.

  15. I recognized your knife right away. They are sold at our local food co-op

    I think what they have in stock right now is boning and paring knives. If you contact the co-op they might also have a direct number to the individual who makes them … I think his name is Michael Hammer.

    I read your site everyday.

    good luck

  16. Jules! Girl, you can’t win down there! Maybe you should move back so you can garden! But wait: we do have that rather pesky thing called “winter” that you’d have to relearn…

    Lydia!! Thank you x 4! I will call your co-op and see if it’s the same dude. Knew if I asked some astute blog-reader would come through…and hopefully I can send some work his way as a thank you; I adore that knife.

  17. Hello,

    Your kitchen knife is handmade by Michael Hemmer. You can see his work here : http://www.ferndaleblacksmith.com/MichaelHemmerDraft.html

    Best regards,

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