Time for Tomatoes

time for tomatoes

I always forget how long it takes to grow a good tomato. The first ones begin blushing sometime at the end of June, if you’re lucky. But it’s usually well into July before the bounty arrives. And when I look back, it’s typically August or September when we can our dozens of jars of marinara. That’s when the tomatoes start stacking up on the counter faster than I can dice them into salsa or salads, or slice them atop quiche or straight onto fresh baked bread with a slather of homemade mayonnaise.

Which is, of course, right where we are, the very beginnings of September. A glance at my menu plans confirm it. In the past few weeks I’ve stirred up gazpacho, ratatouille, fresh sauce for my pasta, and Shakshuka. There are so many great ways to eat a garden-ripe tomato. And nearly as many ways to save them for winter.

As I’ve written already this summer, our growing season wasn’t so kind to us this year. We’ve struggled to coax our eggplants into being, our zucchini came and went a little too quickly and our tomatoes haven’t been as plentiful as in the past. It’s years like this that make me appreciate more than ever my area’s thriving farmers market scene.

cherry tomatoes

We did have a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes. And our heirlooms, in the end, have given us enough to make many lovely dinners. But for canning, we turned to the wonderful Good Food-Good People, a consortium of growers in our area that offers an online ordering service that I regularly rely on. They came through with an affordable box of “seconds” (not your most beautiful tomatoes, but ripe and tasty and perfect for canning) and then a bonus box of tomatoes that wouldn’t have lasted long in the warehouse but made it next-day into our marinara.

So, thanks to our local farmers, we are stocked for the winter. And we’re looking forward to a few more weeks of tomato pie and basil tomato soup and homemade pizzas with fat, round slices on top.

When I lived in Durham, we once had tomatoes on the vine at Christmas. There’s no chance of that here in Southwest Virginia, but I am hoping for a mild fall and resilient plants. I’ve still got more tomato eating in me for sure.

What are your favorite ways to eat tomatoes?

This posted was shared on Cooking with Aunt JuJu, Fiesta Friday and Virginia Bloggers






13 thoughts on “Time for Tomatoes

  • Simple is best, let the tomato speak for itself. Sliced tomatoes, layered with sliced fresh mozzarella, sprinkled with fresh basil leaves, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Best at room temperature with good crusty bread.

  • mommysdressingroom

    September 9, 2016 at 8:25 am Reply

    This is so inspiring, we just moved to Virginia and have 15 acres and I can’t wait to start growing our own food, I’ve recently fallen in love with tomatoe bisque. #virginiabloggerLU

    • Oh good luck! Sounds like quite the adventure. And I bet your tomatoes will never taste so good as when you raise them yourself.

  • Nothing I love more than going in my backyard and picking a fresh heirloom tomato from the vine. Sounds like it’s time to put up some beautiful tomatoes for the winter!

    • So hate to think that winter’s on its way (and it doesn’t really feel like it at the moment, does it?). But I guess it’s inevitable. Do you can or freeze your tomatoes? If you freeze, any tips?

  • Oh, tomatoes! I miss dearly the wonderful tomatoes from East TN that I ate as a girl. There’s simply nothing like them. Now I’m craving them!

  • Tomatoes are probably my favorite veggie to grow and eat. One of my plants was supposed to be cherry tomatoes but they turned out to be golf ball size. Depending on the size and type I love them in salads, sandwiches, tomato soup like you do, sauces, fresh off the vine and the list goes on. There’s nothing like a fresh juicy tomato. Thanks for sharing with Fiesta Friday 🙂

  • I was just on my way out to the garden to pick today’s harvest of tomatoes when your post caught my eye. I was thinking of gazpacho for today, but tomato sandwiches with fermented grape leaves are my go-to favourite just now. I preserve mine any and every way I can, but might have to hold back this year as I still haven’t used up all from last year. Better too many than not enough.

    • Tomato sandwiches with fermented grape leaves …. Wish I had a bite of one right now. Lovely thought. Thanks for sharing. Do you ever dry tomatoes? I have a dehydrator but have never used it on tomatoes…

      • Yes, I have dehydrated tomatoes. It is a great way to reduce the bulk. They are less sweet than fresh or frozen, but for some recipes it works. I slice them quite thick and they take some time in the dehydrator, but if too thin they just meld into the dehydrator and you can’t peel them off.

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