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In Season – Tomatoes

tomatoes 2015

My two-year-old grandson “helps” me pick the little red cherry tomatoes. He dutifully picks the tomato, puts it in the bowl, then without even letting it go, takes it out again and eats it.  They fruit astonishingly prolifically on tall indeterminate plants climbing the south side fence on one bed.  Sadly, despite being two-year-old’s sweet tooth worthy, they will never be a market variety – too hard to pick without splitting them.

red cherry tomatoes

Which means they don’t last, even a day on the kitchen bench.  I’m getting a bowl like this every day though and with three other tomato varieties also fruiting (Brandywines, yellow cherries, and Principe Borghese). We’re eating Tomatoes as Themselves as a side dish with practically every meal.  I’ve made Green Gazpacho with the yellow cherries a few times this season already – wonderful on a hot summer night. Pasta Puttanesca uses a whole bowl full of tomatoes. Fresh tomato sauces for things like Italian Kangaroo Meatballs,  Huevos Diablos, Slow Cooked Green Beans Italian Style come up often.

And still there are more. Which  means it’s passata and sun dried tomato time.  I’ve posted about Sun Dried Tomatoes a few times.  This time with the little cherries I didn’t bother threading them, just laid them on biscuit trays and dried them on the dashboard.  The little ones halved dry in a single hot day.

tomatoes drying

But I’ve also discovered a really efficient way to make passata using the slow cooker.  It works well for me because we are on stand alone  solar power and this time of the year, there is free power to waste.  I heat up the tomatoes in the slow cooker for a couple of hours, then blitz them just for a couple of seconds with a stick blender, then strain through an ordinary kitchen strainer to get most of the seeds and skin out.

Return the juice to the slow cooker, good pinch of salt, a few bay leaves or a sprig of oregano, perhaps some garlic, and leave it on high, with the lid off, till the passata is satisfyingly thick.  It takes about 8 hours in my slow cooker, which means I can just leave it to it while I go about my day.

Sterilize some jars and their lids by boiling for 20 minutes or pressure cooking for 10 and ladle the passata into the jars.  (A good tip is to leave a ladle in the passata so that it is sterile too). Lay a tea towel in the bottom of a big pot, put the lids on the jars tightly, stand or lay them in the pot, cover them with cold water, bring to the boil and boil for half an hour.  Check that the lids pop in as they cool.

I really like being able to make half a dozen jars at a time when I have excess tomatoes without it being a huge mission.  The little bit left over, too little for a jar, kept cooking for another hour till it was tomato paste thick and went wonderfully with Cheesy Zucchini Balls.

Tomato passata

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Claire December 1, 2015, 11:20 pm

    Welcome back Linda.

    Tomatoes – they taste of sun. Yum.

  • Katie December 2, 2015, 8:21 am

    I was really glad to see your post today. I know you have had a lot going on this last year. I often refer to your blog for ideas and recipes. I am trying moneymaker tomatoes for the first time this year as opposed to the cherry tomatoes that self seed all over the place and I am hoping to make passata for the first time.

  • Helen December 2, 2015, 8:24 am

    So glad you are back Linda, you have been missed


  • Jayne December 2, 2015, 5:39 pm

    I love reading your posts Linda. Thanks for sharing.
    PS: I can’t believe your grandson is now 2!

  • Jane December 2, 2015, 6:41 pm

    Lovely to see you are back bloging Linda, I enjoy your outlook on life.

  • Marjon December 2, 2015, 7:23 pm

    Hello Linda, welcome back. Have missed your posts. Hoped that things were bearable and/or manageable in your life and that we would see you again.

  • Anna December 2, 2015, 8:48 pm

    Hi Linda, Happy to have found your blog, via a fb share from the gorgeous Sharon Gibson. I met you many years ago when we both had small children were small and my family was thinking of buying a share on Black Horse Creek. Got to see your gorgeous garden back then, it must be so mature and established by now! Spent many years with my chook tractor and mandala bed, and pored over your wonderful book. Delighted to hear about your grandson 🙂

  • Diane Morrison December 2, 2015, 9:06 pm

    So pleased to see you are back. I lve in your region and have found both your garden tips and philosophy of life inspiring.

  • Jasmine December 2, 2015, 9:33 pm

    Great surprise to see The Witches Kitchen appear in my inbox. Such a timely post…tomatoes galore. Thank you for the great ideas.

  • Eileen December 2, 2015, 11:09 pm

    I’ve missed your regular encouragement and ideas

  • Linda December 3, 2015, 5:15 pm

    Wow. Thank you all.

  • Marijke December 3, 2015, 7:01 pm

    You’re back!!!!
    Nothing better then little kids finding their own snacks out in the garden, the best candy. One they’re happy to eat, accompanied by king parrots.
    Life is good outside in the garden. I’m happy to see you found your keyboard again, missed you.

  • Viki December 10, 2015, 6:04 am

    Lovely to see you back, hope all is going well. I have missed your posts.

  • Melanie December 21, 2015, 11:50 pm

    Linda it’s so lovely to see you posting again. I have been thinking of you. I have always loved reading your blog, it’s clear from reading other comments you have been missed.

  • Helen H December 25, 2015, 9:30 pm

    i have your book Linda and have found it invaluable but really missed reading your posts. So glad you are feeling up to blogging again. Hope life is looking brighter for you and your family.

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