Patch to Plate: Let's Celebrate Tomatoes!
How good is growing your own tomatoes?! It's probably my favourite summer fruit to grow (yes, its a fruit! Botanically classified as a berry). Tomatoes have so many health benefits. They are packed with vitamins and promote heart, digestive and skin health, just to name a few. Even the lycopene which gives the skin the red colour, is an antioxidant that can help protect our bodies from cancer. Amazing!
I tend to over plant tomatoes and end up with prolific amounts. Here in coastal NSW, we've had plenty of sunshine and rain this summer, and with the right organic pest control I have harvested kilos, and I mean literally over 14 kilos and counting. I hate waste and even as a family of 6 we would struggle to eat this many tomatoes fresh off the vine.
I grew up with my Dad growing tomatoes. My grandfather was a tomato farmer, known back then as a "Market Gardener", he owned 14 acres in Cardiff Heights NSW. He grew Marmande for his early crop and Grosse Lisse for his late crop. Even my great grandfather grew tomatoes. Perhaps it's this family history that has me appreciating tomatoes and their versatility.
Below I'm sharing a delicious tomato chutney recipe and how to make a simple 1 ingredient tomato paste. These recipes are a great way to use large amounts of tomatoes to reduce waste and to get the most out of your garden produce.
This recipe is fairly simple, has loads of flavour and goes like magic with fresh bread and ham. Have it with your smashed avo breakfast or with a warm BBQ chook. You can't go wrong! This recipe makes around 7 x 500ml jars.
2.5 kilos of chopped tomatoes, peeled* or with skin on
4 onions chopped, red or white or a mixture of both
2 teaspoons of mustard powder
1 tablespoon of seeded mustard
3 teaspoons of curry powder
2 tablespoons of salt
2 green apples, chopped and peeled
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional - adds a little kick )
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
500 grams of sugar
3 cups of vinegar, white or apple cider vinegar works
Cornflour to thicken. ( I use around 3 tablespoons dissolved in a little cold water)
1. Place all ingredients except the cornflour into a large stockpot or saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring regularly. Then reduce heat to a low simmer for around 1.5 - 2 hours. Stir occasionally.
2. Sterilise your jars.
3. Mix up your cornflour with cold water (you want a runny paste) and pour it into your chutney. Stir it through. Let it simmer for a further couple of minutes.
4. Pour straight into your warmed sterilised jars and seal immediately.
Sealed jars can last up to a year in your pantry if stored in a cool, dry and dark space.
Once open, refrigerate. I find they can last a couple of weeks opened in the fridge, however I always have the rule "if in doubt, chuck out".
*Peeling your tomatoes is not hard. Score the skin and place them in a pot of boiling water for just over a minute. The skin will naturally start to peel away. Careful handling them as they will be hot to touch.
I think tomato paste is an ingredient I use almost every week. Whether it is used to add to bolognese, soups or casseroles it's one ingredient that I always have stocked in my pantry. It wasn't until I became more aware of what I was eating, that I realised the jarred or packet pastes that I was buying weren't even made here in Australia. Making my own gives me total peace of mind over what I am adding to my meals including where it comes from. My Tomato Paste is literally just tomatoes, cooked very slowly over low heat until most of the liquid has evaporated. I even leave the skins on. All you are left with is a rich tomato product that is filled with natural goodness.
Just tomatoes! As many as you want to use and what ever variety you have. Around 3 kilos will fill a large deep saucepan but all you will be left with is about 20% of that, if done properly.
1. Chop your tomatoes in half and gently squeeze the seeds out. Catch the juice and seeds in a separate bowl.
2. Place all the chopped tomatoes into a large stockpot or saucepan.
3. Strain juice through sieve into the pot with the tomatoes. Discard the seeds or save them.
4. Place the lid on your saucepan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Then remove lid.
5. Reduce temp to a low heat and let it slowly simmer for a number of hours. Keep stirring regularly to prevent tomatoes sticking or burning on the bottom of the pan. It may take all day! So be patient. The goal is to end up with a very thick tomato concentrate. Hardly any liquid at all.
6. Place the tomato concentrate in a food blender. (Careful it will be very hot. You may wish to cool it down first.) Then blend to a puree.
7. Place the puree into ice cube trays and once frozen bag the cubes of tomato paste for when you need them.
The tomato paste cubes should last several months in the freezer.
Tips: You will know when you have the perfect paste as it should hold its form when picked up by a spoon. If your puree is still too runny, put it back on the stove to reduce further.
To help celebrate tomatoes even more, we are offering 20% off our tomato varieties for the next week. Offer ends 11:59pm, Monday the 24th of January.