Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Andrea Chesman’s Top Ten Tips for Tomato Season

Tomatoes piling up? Author Andrea Chesman shares her favorite ways to eat ’em or save ’em.

Photo courtesy of the author
Tomatoes! Red, yellow, green! Rounded, pear-shaped, grape-sized, as big as the head of a newborn babe. Early hybrids and slow-growing heritage varieties. Sweet or acidic, juice or meaty. Of all the vegetables we grow, tomatoes are often the most abundant — and the most versatile in the kitchen, whether you enjoy them fresh, roasted, frozen, or canned.


1. Sliced Salad
Arrange slices of tomatoes, drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic or red wine vinegar, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Or dress them up with fresh herbs — basil, thyme, cilantro — or thinly sliced sweet onions. Insert sliced fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, or salami between the slices.

2. Chopped Salad
Dice tomatoes and cucumbers into little jewel-size pieces. Add diced bell peppers or sweet onions. Add kernels of corn (raw or blanched) and chopped herbs (cilantro, basil, thyme, oregano; choose one or add a mix of your favorites). Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and wine vinegar, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Tomato Toppings 
No more soggy pizzas, quiches, or tarts. Arrange sliced fresh tomatoes on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and let sit for at least 30 minutes to draw out excess liquid.


4. Slow-Roasted
Place tomatoes in a single layer in an oiled baking dish. Roast for 2 hours at 350°F for plum tomato halves, or 20 minutes at 425°F for cherry tomatoes and tomato slices.

5. Quick Confit
Transfer oven-roasted tomatoes and juices to a clean jar and cover with extra-virgin olive oil. Serve atop good bread. Use leftover oil to add tomato flavor to salads and sautés.


6. Easy Freezing
Buy some jumbo ziplock freezer bags. Bag tomatoes and freeze. Add to the bag until it is full. Turn frozen tomatoes into juice, salsa, or sauce later in the year when you’re less overwhelmed by your harvest haul.

7. Freezer Salsa 
Freeze fresh tomato salsa in 1- or 2-cup containers. To use, defrost in a colander set over a bowl. Add just enough of the collected juices to restore perfect salsa texture.


8. Can Safely
To make your tomatoes acidic enough to be safely processed in a boiling-water bath, add ½ teaspoon of citric acid (available wherever canning supplies are sold) or 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice. When cooking with these tomatoes, add a little sugar, if needed.

9. Can Them Raw
Fill quart jars with whole peeled tomatoes (squeeze in as many as possible). Fill any remaining space with boiling water and process in a boiling-water bath for 90 minutes.

10. Can Them as Purée or Sauce
Chop whole tomatoes (don’t bother seeding or peeling). Add them to a saucepan with a little water to prevent scorching and boil until the tomatoes are easily crushed, 5 to 10 minutes (or more, depending on the size of your batch). Run the tomatoes through a food mill to get rid of the seeds and skins. Return to the pot, bring to a boil, and process in quart jars for 40 minutes. For sauce, cook to desired thickness before processing.

Andrea Chesman is the author of many cookbooks, including The Pickled PantryRecipes from the Root CellarServing Up the HarvestMom’s Best Crowd-Pleasers, and The Vegetarian Grill, which was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Book Award and won a National Barbecue Association Award of Excellence. She is a coauthor of 250 Treasured Country Desserts and The Classic Zucchini Cookbook, and her articles have appeared in the New York TimesCooking LightFood & WineVegetarian TimesOrganic GardeningFine Cooking, and other publications. Find more from Andrea on her website. Her newest book is The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How (Storey 2015).

No comments: