Tuesday, 7 August 2018

It's Tomato time!

I love growing vegetables, but the crop I look forward to most is the tomato. There is something magical about watching the green fruits slowly change colour. At first just a little hint of yellow maybe, and then with increasing speed, (though it seems like agonising slowness) the colour suffuses the whole fruit!

Usually it is the small tomatoes that ripen first. For the past ten days or so I have been picking a batch almost every day. These are a mixture of "Montello" (plum-shaped) and "Maskotka" (round):

These little tomatoes are lovely eaten raw (we often have some as a nibble before dinner in the evening), but with so many available we can afford to be more adventurous. This week I have semi-dried a few in the dehydrator. This concentrates the flavour and produces a soft sticky texture. Before dehydrating them I sprinkled this batch with some salt and dried Oregano, so you can imagine they were pretty damned tasty!

I also made some into a soup. This recipe, which I got from my long-time blogging / Facebook friend David Offutt, involves cooking the tomatoes in olive oil with onions and Basil and then blitzing them. The resulting liquid is sieved to remove the seeds and then chilled in the fridge. It makes a beautiful silky concoction as tangy and refreshing as the well-known Gazpacho.

The chilled soup is garnished with diced raw (homegrown) vegetables, and a sourdough crouton.

This was probably the best soup I've ever had - certainly the best one I've ever made!

Meanwhile, the first of the "large" tomatoes are beginning to ripen now, such as this "Super Marmande" one:

It's not 100% ripe yet. It just needs a little bit longer. After all this time, it's not worth compromising on flavour for the sake of a day or two! My plan for that particular tomato involves some Mozzarella and Basil - the classic insalata Caprese combination.

On a similar note, the first of the "Larisa" toms is just about ready, and when it is I plan to pair it with some Mozzarella Burrata, which is another wonderful combination, especially if accompanied by a slice of freshly-made sourdough bread.

We were pleasantly surprised to find these little 160g pots of Burrata for sale in our local Morrisons.

If you are not familiar with Burrata, I urge you to try it; it's delicious!

While I'm on the subject of tomatoes, I just want to mention these:-

In that photo you can see 3 small tomato plants. These are ones which I grew from pinched-out sideshoots, rooted in water. Once rooted (it only takes a few days) they were planted into pots of soil and now they have been transplanted into the ground at my Courtmoor plot. Yes, it is late to be planting tomatoes, but hey, 2018 has been a strange year so far, so who's to say we won't have another two months of Summer, enabling these plants to mature and deliver a crop of some sort? I think there's nothing to lose.

Since the weather is blazing hot again and we have had no more rain, I gave the plants as good a start as I possibly could. I dug a planting-hole and filled it with water and even before the water had drained away I dunked the plant in it and backfilled with soil! I then made a little moat for each one and filled that with water too.

So maybe the tomato season will last into October this year, eh?


  1. It has been a good year here so far for tomatoes. So glad you liked the soup!

  2. I find your last section encouraging. I have nine Alicante tomato plants in one greenhouse, innumerable plants of unknown variety but with medium sized tomatoes (I think - they are still green and maybe still growing) in the other and five Moneymakers in open ground. Gardeners Delight is my favourite but I have only one and it got left behind in a little pot. I've been thinking of planting it out. (Probably will have to be out cos the greenhouses are full). If you think something may come of late plantings - maybe it will!

  3. Our tomatoes are just starting to roll in as well. We harvested the first large ones this past week - one of the Brandywines (not a big producer but a favourite when it comes to taste) was over half a kilo!

  4. Jealous doesn't come into it ;) Mina are all being taken by the rats as they start to ripen. My plan was to pick them early but they then started nibbling the green ones too!! I can only assume it's because of the dry weather; my plot neighbours too are suffering and none of us have known it happen in the past.

    1. That's seriously bad news! Whereabouts are you?

    2. Pontefract, West Yorks. I'm currently trialling sprinkling black pepper all over the place, to be joined tomorrow by chilli powder. I tried peppermint sweets (apparently rats can't stand the smell)but they all dissolved overnight <:o)

  5. Love the look of that soup, Mark - my mum always made a delicious tomato and red pepper soup for lunch so tomato is a favourite of mine. Watching tomatoes grow fruit and ripen is one reason that I have so many of them on my tiny balcony - easy access for nibbling as well as watching. I'm currently waiting for a couple of Corno di Rosso peppers to ripen, they're currently streaked gold! Good idea to plant up the offshoots - the weather is so unpredictable that I had freshly picked balcony tomatoes on Christmas Day one year!!


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