Heirloom Tomato Overload!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

WARNING! Blurry pictures and bumpy roads ahead!

I see that ye olde piece o' crud digital camera still hasn't totally recovered from the sugar water bath it received several weeks ago. Either that, or the picture taker imbibed in just a little too much Pabst Blue Ribbon from the GarageMahal kegerator.

You could make both arguments. They're valid. I'll be honest. PBR is the bomb. But, I digress.

There comes a time in everyone's tomato garden, where the plants that you have lovingly tended for months on end finally start to give it up. To put it short and sweet, you are literally "snowed under" and "snowed in" with vine-ripened tomatoes.

My friends, that time has now arrived. And, to make matters even worse, only two out of the four tomato beds are producing ripened fruit. What happens when the other two start giving it up? Hold a garage sale?

I knew this time was coming. For weeks I've watched as this haul to your left slowly ripened on the vine. And I became quite alarmed when I suddenly realized that far too many were going to come ripe at once. Venus and I love tomatoes. We can eat them all day and all night. But two people can only consume so much.

When the garden gives you fifty tomatoes in one day, my friends, that spells trouble.

We were supposed to spend this past weekend gathering tomatoes for a salsa canning project. But the pickling project mentioned in the previous post -- 21 quarts of lip-smacking dill pickles -- literally took up our free weekend time. The tomatoes would have to wait for another day.

But when I noticed last night that many of them could not wait -- they simply had to come off the vine NOW or I was going to lose them -- I took action.

Keep in mind -- that most of the tomatoes pictured above came off just two plants: the Druzba and the Cosmonaut Volkov. There's nothing wrong with that whatsoever. Eastern Europe really knows how to speak tomato. Those varieties that have been imported with the fall of the Soviet Union are just out of sight!

The biggest catch of this haul however, is 100% home-grown American. That's a 2 lb. Campbell's 1327 sitting on top of that one-quart canning jar. That, by far, is the largest Campbell's 1327 I have ever harvested. And my Campbell's plant this year, like so many others, is just weighted down with more tomatoes than you can shake a stick at.

Why Coporate Campbell's dumped this one I'll never know. It's not like they replaced it with anything better or anything more productive. Perhaps the powers that be in the coporate board room should be taught the appropriate lesson. Just because it's old, doesn't mean that it's not any good.

The tomatoes that came off the vine last night represented an "emergency" harvest. I only chose those tomatoes that were simply not going to last another day, let alone another hour on the vine. Many of them split when I picked them -- they were that ripe. But, I left many more on the vine, hoping (praying) that they will last until the weekend, and a full-scale tomato sauce and salsa canning project.

So, what does one do with a basket full of tomatoes that are so ripe that they're starting to split? Easy. You either eat them on the spot, OR, call on the services of your handy-dandy food processor (if you don't have a food processor, a blender works just as well. If you don't have a blender -- don't grow tomatoes).

After coring and cutting each tomato into the appropriate size and shape -- into the food processor they went, and then a large one gallon pot for cooking purposes. While I didn't exactly measure it out completely, once I had churned up enough, it filled up almost the entire pot. Not to worry. Tomatoes lose a lot of the water content when you cook them down into a fine sauce, but none of the lip smacking taste.

Last night's emergency dinner? Chicken spaghetti. Today's lunch? The same thing! Tonight's dinner? Care to guess? One can never have too much chicken spaghetti.

At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

This is just the first of many harvests yet to come this summer. I'm not sure what Venus and I are doing in the backyard this year, but everything is coming up roses. These heirloom plants, and many more like them, will continue to produce crop after crop all summer long.


Greg Damitz said...

Awesome. My tomatoes startd ripening like crazy this week. Coworkers and neighbors will make out like thieves as the ripening is coinciding with a well needed vacation to Fort Bragg. I love how many different varieties you grow.

Jenn's Cooking Garden! said...

Tomatoes Tomatoes Tomatoes, what summer is all about. Ive been getting tons too. Although I just lost 3 plants to Fusarium wilt. But its ok, i planted plenty! Im having lots of luck with Roma's. Hoping to make Tomato Paste this weekend! Happy canning this weekend!

dave said...

...Wait...PBR? The bomb? Really?