The Merry Old Month of Tomato - Bob Dunn Photography
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The Merry Old Month of Tomato

The crush of the harvest is a problem, but one of my favorites. In a good year, time turns in on itself and an extra month overlaps May and June, called Tomato. We’re having a whopping Tomato month this year, which is good because last year’s never really materialized.

Wash In Cold Water With Like Colors - Air DrySeven stout plants grew from the seed I’ve been saving eight or nine years now, stuck in fertile dirt that hadn’t seen a garden in a long while. As a bonus, at least the top couple of inches of soil probably were sanitized by a very hot fire that ripped through our old garage almost a year ago. Maybe that helped keep the wilt viruses off of the plants this year, I don’t know. The plants grew wide and tall, and once they hit about 7 feet and started to lean, I loosely bound their stems together with twine and secured them to heavy wooden trellises behind them to the north. The plants probably would be 10 to 12 feet tall if they were growing straight up.

So far these seven plants have produced many dozens of large, really tasty beefsteak-type fruit. Enough that I’ve made several batches of salsa, several caprese plates, innumerable slices on sandwhiches, salads and popped raw into my mouth, a large glass dishful of roasted ones for use with fresh shrimp, plenty to give away, and so far three batches of a really good fresh sauce I’ve just learned to make. Today I prepared 14 large tomatoes and put them on two cookie sheets in the freezer. After they’ve been in there a few hours, I’ll transfer them to freezer bags and use them in the winter. Still there are more on the window sills, on top of the freezer and the washing machine.

Good Beefsteak Tomatoes Are Meaty With Small Seed CavatiesI wish I could have them fresh for slicing the rest of the summer and fall, but they spoil fairly quickly if you don’t use them – so into the freezer they go, or another batch of this:

Fresh Tomato Sauce
→ 4 pounds ripe tomatoes, washed, sliced into eight wedges and squeezed gently to remove the seeds and some of the juice
→ 12 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
→ 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped fine
→ 1 medium sweet onion, cut in half
→ 2-4 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
→ olive oil
→ salt and pepper to taste

Pour just enough olive oil into a heavy, deep pan to cover the bottom. Heat the oil with the burner on medium, then add the oregano and the garlic and stir until the garlic begins to yellow. Slice half of the onion and add it to the pot, stirring for a few minutes until it turns golden.

Stir in the tomato wedges and raise the heat a bit. Mash them down with a potato masher. Add a few pinches of salt and ground pepper, then stir the tomatoes. Allow them to boil, then turn the heat down and simmer them for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Allow the tomatoes to cool a little, then pour them into a blender or food processor (you may need to do it in two batches). Blend until smooth.

Add another couple of tablespoons of olive oil to your pot, and while it’s heating, chop the other half-onion very fine, then cook it until golden. Pour the tomato sauce from the blender back into the pot, and add the basil. Simmer 15-25 minutes, or until the sauce thickens up. Adjust seasonings to your liking.

This should make enough sauce for two 16-ounce packages of pasta. You can double the recipe if you like. Freeze whatever sauce you don’t plan on using right away.

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