What To Do With November Tomatoes

tomato-flower-fruitIf you live in the Pacific Northwest or other northern climate and you grow tomatoes in your garden you will have likely asked yourself this question, “What do I do with all these green and half ripe tomatoes?”

Yesterday was November 1st, daylight saving time is over.  The refrigerated winds and driving rains of winter have begun maiming the tomato vines, reduced now to slimy black ropes with their immature fruits green, pale orange, cold and clinging.  Patty and I suited up in our rain coats and went to work on the tomato patch, gathering each sound fruit into the harvest colander and committing all gooey molding remains to the compost heap.

In midsummer I had devised a quick and easy method of turning the fresh ripe vine tomatoes into fresh smooth sauce, ready to serve in less than an hour.  I haven’t used our Foley Mill since and I am not sad about that. This method should work for other small seeded fruits too (imagine blackberries, grapes, etc).

1)  Pick your fresh tomatoes. Pull off the stems. Wash ’em. Cut ’em in half.

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2) Put all the fruit in your electric blender and blend at high speed for 3 minutes. This turns the whole raw food into a homogeneous slurry ready for your mesh strainer.  We use a stainless steel Update brand strainer we found for about $4 at a local food service equipment retailer.  Just pour the slurry from the blender into your strainer over a stainless bowl or pot.

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3) Shake and jiggle your strainer.  Watch as this jiggling action amazingly separates all desirable flavorful goodness from the bitter seeds and toothy skin fragments.  If you have children I think they will dig this part. Let them jiggle and shake the strainer as you blend more batches.  Keep shaking and jiggling until you are left with a singular glob that resembles dry clay putty. I put the resulting glob into the compost.  The perfectly smooth creamy looking nectar that remains is ready for your favorite comestible preparations.

The raw tomato juice could be used fresh as is in a summer cold soup or add a bit of sugar and vanilla and turn into a frozen sorbet (sorry I didn’t write down my made-up recipes for these, maybe next season).  Otherwise, put the nectar into your stainless pot and simmer to reduce to the freshest, smoothest tomato sauce you’ve ever had.  Adding garlic,onion, herbs and salt to taste is optional.

If your tomatoes are green and immature just think of them as tomatillos.  Additions of garlic, onion, roasted chili peppers, lime, salt and fresh cilantro (voluntarily growing with vigor here in our Seattle garden) will make for an amazingly fresh addition to your November morning breakfast as it did for Patty and I this morning.  November green tomatoes are no longer a dissapointment.

Happy Harvest friends!

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