The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. ~ Alfred Austin
Monday, 17 February 2014
The Great Tomato Harvest
Sunday morning I spent a bit of time in the vegie garden weeding, feeding and mulching. In the bottom corner of one of the vegie beds was a huge tomato bush. I am not sure what variety of tomato it is, as it was a seedling I had bought from Bunnings. All it said on the label was Diggers Heirloom. The bush has always looked sick as though it might have had a virus or something. I have been picking tomatoes off this bush for a little while but they weren't really well liked by the teens of the house. The photo above is a bit deceptive as they look nice and red, but really they are very mottled with a few nice red ones amongst them. I knew on Sunday morning that there were tomatoes there to be picked. Well, I started picking them and kept going and going. In the end I ended up with eight kilos worth! The chooks ended up with some that were too far gone and had turned mushy. Now what to do with the rest!?!
First of all I decided to make a roasted tomato soup to put in the freezer for when (if) the weather cools down. I just sliced the tomatoes and quite often had to cut out pieces that weren't quite right. After putting them in a couple of large baking dishes I drizzled some olive oil over them and put chopped garlic from Mum's garden plus some herbs from my garden plus a few dried herbs and a sprinkling of salt and pepper over them and into the oven.Once they were done I transferred the wonderfully smelling tomatoes to a large dish and used the stick blender to moosh them up.
The result was two containers of very tasty roasted tomato soup. Again this photo is a bit deceptive looking as the containers are fuller than what the picture shows. Before putting it into the containers I had to try just a bit to see what the flavour was like and Yum! It had a really lovely flavour, am really looking forward to having this soup for my lunch once the weather cools down.
While the tomatoes were in the oven roasting, I also chopped up the rest of the tomatoes to make a pasta sauce. First of all I cooked off two large (and I mean large!) onions from Mum's garden, then added some garlic from Mum's garden. Then filled this large pot to the top with the chopped tomatoes. The photo above is from when they had been cooking for awhile already and had reduced down. After a bit I added about a tablespoon of brown sugar while it was all coming to the boil and then turned down the heat to a simmer and left it for a couple of hours. Oops I added herbs in at that stage too. After a couple of hours it had reduced down and thickened I mooshed it up with the stick blender too.
This was the result. A really yummy full of flavour tomato pasta sauce, that we all thoroughly enjoyed for tea Sunday night. It made enough sauce for probably about another four pasta dishes. In the past I have never really been any good at preserving what we grow. We eat so much of the produce from our garden fresh, but I have just never really gotten into the habit of preserving anything and if I am too be honest that means quite a bit ends up being wasted and goes into the compost. I was really determined I was going to do something with these tomatoes as I knew the kids wouldn't eat them fresh. They have grown up eating lots of different vegies straight from the vegie garden all their lives, but as they have become older and none of their friends eat home grown vegies (which I find really sad) they have become fussier. This was definitely a win as both said the house smelled really good while all the cooking was going on and they both enjoyed eating the pasta, so I am happy! As much as I love my chooks they weren't getting all the tomatoes, as it was they ended up with quite a few that had gone mushy, and I think if they had had anymore, they would have been well and truly sick of them. This has given me the incentive to have a go at preserving more of our garden harvest's. Now what to do with the capsicums...