There’s nothing better to make you appreciate the joys of growing your own than picking a fresh tomato off the vine and popping it straight into your mouth. Next to eating fresh strawberries, this has to be the best fresh fruit to eat raw, and tomato is a fruit though we use it as a vegetable. The problem is that tomatoes don’t keep well, and if you’re lucky enough to avoid the dreaded tomato blight, you can end up with a glut of rotting ones.
Tomatoes form the basis of many dishes and sauces, and canned tomatoes are a staple in our kitchen. You can freeze them whole or partially cooked but there’s not enough room in the freezer for all the ones that I would use through the year. So here’s some recipes which make the most of your harvest and provide a good basis for sauces and other dishes – pizza toppings, pasta, risottos, vegetable or meat curries and stews. Keep them in sterilised jars and you can add taste to your cooking well into next year.
They also need cooking apples as well as tomatoes.
Tomato apple & ginger chutney
Prep: 20 mins Cook: 2 hrs, 45 mins Makes approx 2.5kg
900 g ripe tomatoes 100 g onions (2 small)
900 g cooking or green apples 570 ml malt vinegar
1 dessertspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
220g brown sugar
Recycled jam or sauce jars.
- Peel, core and slice the apples, tomatoes and onions.
- Put them in a large bowl, pour the vinegar over them, then add the pepper, ginger and sugar. Cover and leave until the next day.
- Turn all together into a large pan, stir frequently and simmer uncovered – could take up to 2 ½ hours – until darkened, thick and chutney-like.
- To sterilise the jars, wash thoroughly in very hot soapy water. Rinse in very hot water then put on a baking sheets in a 140C/Gas Mark 1 oven until completely dry. Alternatively boil for 10 minutes in a large saucepan with the lids.
- Pour the chutney into the sterilised jars while still hot, Place the lids in position, but don’t screw tight to seal until cold.
- Leave in a cool dark place for at least 3 weeks before opening.
This is a good sauce to make when you have a glut of tomatoes threatening to become too overripe to eat or cook, and the freezer’s too full to take any more. It improves with keeping, lasting several weeks if the jars are kept sealed .
Preparation: 30 min Cook: 45 min Serves 15
1.5 kg ripe tomatoes
200 g onions (2 medium-sized)
1 large cooking or green apple (approx. 160g)
255 ml malt vinegar
1 ½ level teaspoons ground pepper
1 tablespoon salt
½ level teaspoon ground cloves
½ level teaspoon ground mace
100 g sugar (brown or white)
1. Wash the tomatoes, remove stalks and put them in a bowl. If any are damaged or affected by blight, cut out the bad parts. Pour boiling water over to cover all and leave for a few minutes. The skin should then peel off easily. If not, add some more boiling water. Put the skinned tomatoes into another bowl (or remove the water and skin) and sprinkle the salt over. Leave for around an hour.
2. Chop the onions into small pieces. Wash the apples, peel and cut into slices. Put them into a large pan with the sugar, vinegar and spices. Bring to the boil, then add the tomatoes.
3. Simmer the mix gently for 2 hours, till it has become a good pulp with lots of flavour.
4. Prepare the jars or bottles (recycled jam or sauce jars are fine). If you want to store the sauce and use it after a month or so, you’ll need to sterilise them to prevent mould forming. Wash the jars thoroughly in very hot soapy water. Rinse in very hot water, then put on a baking sheet in a low oven (140 C or Gas Mark 1) until completely dry. Alternatively boil for 10 minutes in a large saucepan with the lids.
4. If you like a smooth sauce, sieve the mixture and return to a clean pan. If you prefer a sauce with texture and the tomato seeds left in, just stir to break down the larger chunks of fruit and veg. Then continue simmering till fairly thick – around ½ hour. The consistency needs to be liquid enough to pour when cold, so keep an eye on it to prevent it getting too thick and sticky.
5. Cool slightly. Pour into jars (or use a spoon or ladle sterilised in boiling water). Put the lids on but don’t screw down until the sauce is cold.