Monday, May 05, 2008

Bumper Crop: Tomatoes

In the city, a bumper crop is something you get when you idle too close to the taxi in front of you in traffic. It never really meant a surfeit of glorious produce, which then brings about the pleasant dilemma of how we are to dispose of our bounty. No, that type of bumper crop belonged in the corner of my head right next to the wood nymphs and faeries, while I satisfy myself with what finds its way to our groceries and city markets.

But times are a-changing as more consumers see the need to: 1. Have fresher produce, untouched by chemicals (and in the process getting closer to the source of where our food comes from), and 2. Support our smaller local farmers (who are really such champs…go local farmers!). Small organic farms/farmers are forming cooperatives and groups to get their products to us. Concerned consumers are working directly with smaller farmers (who perhaps cannot afford to come all this way) to make available the treasures they offer.

So now, aside from the small farmers I see at my markets, and religiously try to support (especially if they show some spunk in trying to grow herbs not commonly available), it is not surprising that emails announcing “Organic tomatoes!” needing to be sold in 10-kilo batches filter down the food chain to little ole me. Organic, native tomatoes, grown by a newbie organic farmer, “grown using local community labor at fair wages”…would I be interested to buy? That would be a resounding yes! :)

We got a tomato-buying group together (10 kilos is a bit of a stretch for C and I no matter how much we like tomatoes) and placed our order of half red, half green tomatoes. I was thrilled when they arrived…truly looking all rosy and cheerful from a life without chemicals. We left for Hanoi the next day so my tomatoes had to take a nap in the fridge (I know, I know, but we had no choice) while we were away. When we got back I was faced with the tomatoes, at this point having to all be used without further delay.

Ah! The “pleasant dilemma of how we are to dispose of our bounty”…this is how we solved it…

Pickled Green Tomatoes
(adapted and pieced together from various recipes)

  • Green tomatoes, about 1 kilo
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Black pepper

- Place vinegar, water, sugar, salt, bay leaves, and pepper in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for a couple of minutes.
- While you are bringing the pickling solution to a boil, slice your tomatoes into quarters lengthways. Stuff the slices into clean/sterilized (I boil them) glass jars.
- After the pickling solution has boiled for a couple of minutes pour into the jars with the tomatoes until about 1/2 or 1/4-inch from the top, making sure all the tomatoes are covered. Cover and let cool.
- When cool, place in the fridge. Let it rest for about a day before eating. Serve with smoked, grilled, or fried fish. A nice condiment to add to your hamburger sandwiches too!

Tomato Chutney
(adapted from Modern Classics 1 by Donna Hay)

  • Ripe tomatoes, about 500-600 grams, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

- Simmer everything (except the salt and pepper) in a saucepan or a deep frying pan, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until thickened. Mine took longer than 30 minutes…about 45 minutes – 1 hour until it was nice, thick, and sticky.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, stir, and simmer a bit more, about 5 minutes, then take off the heat.
- Immediately pour into cleaned/sterilized jar/s, cover, and turn sealed jar upside down until cool.
- When cool, turn right-side-up and store in fridge. Serve with savory tarts or pies, or use as relish in ham/roast chicken sandwiches.

Oven-roasted Tomatoes
(adapted from Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros)

  • Ripe tomatoes, about 1-1.5 kilos
  • Olive oil for drizzling and for storing
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed

- Preheat the oven to 200C (400F). Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and brush with oil. You can use a tray or a jelly roll pan, or even a cookie sheet that’s got a little sides.
- Slice the tomatoes in half lengthways and place snugly side by side in the baking tray, seeded side up. Drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake for around 15 minutes or until you see the tomatoes sizzling and coloring, then lower the temperature to 150C (300F) for another 1 1/2 hours until they are a little shriveled but not completely dried out. I lowered it to 170-180C and kept it for about 2 hours until I liked the way they looked. They will look similar to the sun-dried tomatoes you get in the store but meatier and not as dried – and tons more gorgeous ;)
- Leave tomatoes to cool then transfer them to a clean/sterilized jar. Place the 2 garlic cloves in the jar and cover everything with olive oil – you can add more herbs and/or spices in here if you like. Store in the fridge.

All recipes were adapted to the tomato quantities we had and are very flexible. Note also that I do not follow any approved procedures for sterilizing and canning. These are immediately refrigerated and consumed shortly after. They are not for long-term storage.

C is loving the pickled green tomatoes…having it as a siding (or what he likes to call pampaganang espesyal) with tinapang bangus (smoked milkfish). The tomato chutney still waits in the fridge for an occasion to trot its sweet-and-sour-y goodness out. My favorite of the bunch though is the oven-roasted tomatoes! The slow-roasting essentially concentrated all the tomatoes’ sweetness and intensified its flavor exponentially. I have used it in salads, pasta, and in one delicious tomato/mozzarella/basil tart! And it is so easy to make! I use the oil it is soaking in as well, adding it to pasta sauces and salad dressings.

I’ve got more local purveyors lined up to try out – this time for fruits and dairy products. My palate is tingling in anticipation :) Go out and support your local farmers today!

I'm submitting this homage to tomatoes and the valiant small farmers who grow them to Weekend Herb Blogging, that wonderful event that celebrates everything that plants can give us :) WHB was created by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen and this week's round is hosted by Laurie of Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska.


Manggy said...

Ooh, I think the roasted tomatoes would be my favorite too-- at least you can fit a whole lot more tomatoes into a small space, haha! :) (plus the flavor cannot be beat :)
Local farming is sure taking an interesting turn. It's just too bad that fair wages (and land, ahem) for farmers is not a more widespread concern.

kosenrufu mama said...

uhmmmm! i will try it!!!!!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What wonderful recipes! I can't wait to be able to buy Swiss/regional tomatoes...



Maricel said...

Just a word of caution, I read somewhere that the raw garlic in oil packed sun-dried tomatoes causes botulism micro-organisms to thrive.

RecipeGirl said...

What terrific choices! I would like the pickled tomatoes best, I think!

Joe Kazimierczyk said...

I was wondering about the garlic in oil / botulism issue to. I think that's only a problem when stored at room temperature, but storing in the fridge is safe. Still, I tend to worry about things like this and would probably leave out the garlic.

christine said...

Yes! "go out and support your local farmers!". Everyone wins, they stay in business, and you get fresh, healthy, locally-grown food! :) You'll also help save on the petrol used to transport 'imported' goods from elsewhere. I can't wait to make those roasted tomatoes with the next batch! :) Lovely photo as usual, Jo!

Helen said...

It is so nice to find the blog of someone who obviously feels the same way about food as I do - seasonal and local and organic where possible. YES! Support those local farmers!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Oh, I'll have a jar of each, sweetie, please. ;)

oggi said...

Recently I have been waking up really early on Saturdays to visit our local farmer's's worth all the trouble and higher cost because I get the freshest eggs (1 day old) and meats. I have to wait another month for produce though.
I'll come back to this post for the pickled green tomatoes, sounds yummy!:)

Laurie Constantino said...

What a wonderful trio of dishes! I don't think I could pick between them - they all sound terrific. Showing us how to extend a local crop by preserving is much appreciated.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I had pickled green tomatoes once in South Carolina but never found a recipe I liked for them. Thanks, Joey,now I have a recipe I can trust. :)

Kalyn said...

I love slow roasted tomatoes, and I've had fried green tomatoes, but haven't tried the pickled green tomatoes. Having too many tomatoes is what my mother used to call "a good problem to have!"

Holler said...

Gorgeous! I can just taste those roast tomatoes, yum :)

Cate said...

Mmm, haven't had tomato chutney in ages; Donna Hay's looks delicious.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Manggy! After roasting these tomatoes I realized I could have done it to all 10 kilos…hahaha :) Baby steps my friend…although when it comes to the land I think we may have to do more than cross our fingers…sigh. But these guys are a good sign…this one uses local labor at fair wages :)

Hi Kosenrufu mama! I hope you enjoy it :)

Hi Rosa! They are…our local tomatoes are perfect for these recipes I think :) What are the Swiss tomatoes like?

Thanks for the word of advice Maricel! I have heard that as well…but since this goes straight to the fridge, and is consumed not too long after, I think it should be ok. That being said, you can use any herbs or spices instead of the garlic :)

Hi Recipe Girl! I like them too…so tart and a perfect siding with grills :)

Hi Joe! Yes, I store it in the fridge…and not for long :) But you can certainly leave it out and even replace it with other herbs and spices :) I think rosemary would also be nice…

Nens! I owe this all to you for giving me the heads up! :) Let me know when there is a next batch!

Hi Helen! Eating seasonal is not something I was born doing – for lack of seasons (we only have two and sometimes they can get wacky on me!)! Heehee :) But it is, along with discovering local purveyors, something I have grown to respect and really love doing :)

Hi Pat! Sure thing! :) And I’ll take a couple of cookies!

Hi Oggi! That sounds lovely! Now I am on the hunt for the fresh meats…

Hi Laurie! Thank you! And thanks for hosting this round of WHB!

Hi Susan! Hope you like it :) It’s quite a pared down recipe…you can still add different flavors and nuances to the solution. I’m looking forward to experimenting!

Hi Kalyn! Your mother was right! Fried green tomatoes are what I have yet to try!

Thanks Holler! :)

Hi Cate! It’s a good starter recipe…I like it because it’s very basic and you can add different spices to make it suit different types of food :)

minana said...

That's all nice and cool. But I wish you could share how you procured these for yourself (who, how, when?) so others like us may get some too.

Lina said...

wonderful tomato recipes you got there! I love roasted tomatoes!

Dhanggit said...

like manggy, the roasted tomatoes are my favorite too!! perfect for any cold salad or pasta!! yummmy!! lovely photos as usual!!

lobstersquad said...

mm, that sounds really fun. I can´t wait to have our own overflowing tomato stands and begin to play.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Minana! I got this notice from a friend to help use up a harvest that was more than market far no word yet of another one, but please email me (my addy is on the sidebar) so I can get in touch with you if I hear anything! :)

Hi Lina! The roasted ones were fantastic! By far my favorite :)

Thanks Dhanggit! I've used them in so many things already...I love them!

Hi Ximena! I'd love to see what you would do :) I'm sure it'll be delicious!

Suzana said...

Brilliant post, lovely writting! And great recipes - already bookmarked for the tomato season around here. :-)

Tartelette said...

Tomatoes here are just a few days away from being scrumptious so I am really glad you posted these recipes! Wonderful!

Veron said...

Looks fantastic , joey! You've done a great job with all of them.

MikeMina said...

Wow! I love them all! I can imagine how the pickled tomatoes taste like . . . It is indeed a very good 'pampagana' especially with tuyo and itlog na maalat!

ChichaJo said...

Thank you Suzana! I hope you like them! :)

Hi Helene! Hoping you enjoy your tomatoes soon :)

Thanks Veron! And I enjoyed them all too ;)

Hi Mike! Super pampagana! And these are our small native kamatis, not those big salad type tomatoes they sell at the supermarkets. If fact, you can make our regular ensalada of onion, tomato, and itlog na maalat substituting the regular tomatoes with these pickled it a great kick! :)

rainbowbrown said...

Ooh, yum. Really.

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Rainbowbrown! :)

voltaire john said...

OMG! thanks maricel for the warning! i looked up stuff about botulism and i was soooo surprised how serious it is and how easily we can get it with carelessness. what i found was exactly what i was doing -- i.e. storing minced garlic in oil.

Mark said...

WOW love the recipes. We tried them all!!!!!!!

Maja said...

The pickled green tomatoes sounds good. How long does it last like that?

ChichaJo said...

Hi Maja! I kept mine in the fridge for a couple of weeks.