Tomatoes are one of those fruits that everyone should grow in their garden. Generally they are easy to grow, however they can if the environment allows, be prone to diseases, usually when conditions are not favourable. To avoid disease ensure ideal growing conditions in the first month’s of growth.
Tomatoes need feeding regularly. Using worm tea and comfrey fertilizer ( see my other blogs about these fertilizers) , help plants to remain healthy for longer each season.
Plants may need support with stakes in the garden or tie down into strings.
Idealy harvest tomatoes when they are completely ripe. Cutting them just above the flower stalk. Any green tomatoes left at the end of the season may be picked and stored in a cool environment for them to ripen.
I have many tomatoes this year, to store, and so I’m going to try a few things, so I use some up.
So today I’ll make some semi dried tomatoes which are delicious and great to have on hand, I can use them in pesto, in pasta and italian dishes and also for a healthy snack with drinks.
Although I’m not doing it today, I’ll also bottle some tomato pasata sauce.
Ok, this year I’m again, going to try a tomato jam recipe. I did make a tomato jam last year, with cherry tomatoes, and it was delicious, but I left it at room temperature and I did not sterilize the jars effectively and it went moldy after a few weeks. So I think I learnt my lesson about jar preparation.
Tomato jam is delicious accompaniment to soft cheeses like brie and camerbert, you can use it on toasted cheese sandwiches. Or serve with a cheese platter as a fruit paste. I fact if you use less liquid and boiled it right down you make get a thicker jelly like a fruit paste.
So this year I’m using a different recipe with lemon and Glace ginger.I’m also talking care to sterilize the jars correctly.
Recipe- Tomato Jam
1 Pound. Tomatos
1 Pound. Sugar
Juice and rind of one lemon.
200g Glace ginger chopped
In this recipe you can change quantities of things just remember to go pound for pound or cup for cup with the tomato and sugar.
If your making a larger amount use two lemons.
Boil a saucepan of water and take off heat add tomatoes after making a cross cut in the skin across bottom of tomato.
After a few moments, pull tomato out of water and peel the skin off from the cut on bottom of tomato.
Crush pulp and add to a saucepan with sugar. Add lemon rind and juice and chopped ginger and boil down for 40 minutes or until fruit gels on back of wooden spoon.
It may take longer, I actually boiled mine for another 40 mins
Prepare jars and lids.-
Ten minutes before jam is ready prepare the jars. Wash jars and lids in warm soapy water, rinse drain air dry in oven.
Boil lids for ten mins in large pan. Turn jars upsidedown over onto a rack in oven and place in moderate over for ten min. Take jars out of oven, leave lids to boil in water.
Time it so that the jars are out of oven and jam is warm at the same time jars are.
Fill jars with jam place lid on top. But don’t tighten. When jam is cooled slightly tighten lid, turn jam upside down, then right side up again.
Jam should last for months if the jar seals and contains no bacteria.
If there is mold a strange taste or smell upon opening, discard the produce.
Oven dried Tomatoes.
For this recipe I’ll be using the oven to make semi dried tomatoes for cooking and snacking.
Drying tomatoes is a great way to store your harvest. They will need to be stored in fridge in air tight jar with a little oil sprinkled over, to keep softened.
Cover paper tray with baking paper.
After washing tomatoes cut in half and place on baking paper.
Sprinkle with herbs of your choice, season to taste and drizzle with good quality olive oil.
In this recipe I use fresh basil, dried chilli Flakes and dried thyme leaves, hymalyan salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Place in a slow oven and cook from two and a half hours to four hours depending on the size and water content, or until they are dried to your satisfaction.
Place in a sterile jar, drizzle with more oil. Store in refrigerator.