Thursday, 1 March 2012

Oh faithful tomato! ~ Canberra

As I sit to write this entry it has been raining pretty much constantly for the past 3 days and my entire backyard is a muddy bog. Mind you my backyard is nothing in comparison to the flooding being experienced by a number of communities in southern New South Wales. 

This year I decided to invest in a variety of tomato plants – delightful cherries, trusty romas – including mini ones, the common supermarket make to a variety of heirlooms.  Over the years as my gardening experience has improved so too has our crop. A good thing about tomatoes is that they don’t require much love to prosper. This year we have been completely organic - no tomato dusty, fertiliser etc... just rain, good compost, lucerne and sunshine.

Unlike previous years I managed to get all of our plants in before Melbourne Cup (according to a colleague who is Canberra born and bred this is the key date, if you leave them much past this date you will miss a full season) and with our unseasonably wet summer we have had a bumper crop.

I don’t like to waste anything that we grow so over the past 3 weeks we have been eating tomatoes with every meal (along with zucchini, eggplants and celery). 

The top 3 dishes in our house have been:
  1. Semi dried cherry tomatoes with roasted garlic preserved in olive oil  - perfect in pasta, in chicken and I am hoping they will keep well for winter when all you get in the shops in tasteless tomatoes. 
  2. Tomato and ginger  jam (Gourmet Traveller - Feb 2012) – yummo with cheddar cheese,  bacon and eggs - I found though, that I needed to cook it for twice as long as what the recipe suggested
  3. Open cheese tart with heirloom tomatoes – perfect lunch or light dinner - used Donna Hay's Cherry Tomato and Basil Tart as the basis and then modified based on the cheeses, herbs and tomatoes that I had at home (every version so far has been different and they are all so tasty)
Semi drying tomatoes is so easy, just follow these easy steps:

tomatoes, salt, pepper, olive oil, rosemary, knob of garlic 
  1. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half – best to cut them across the tomato rather than top to bottom as it will make it easier to remove the seeds
  2. With a teaspoon remove half of the seeds
  3. Liberally sprinkle with salt
  4. Stand them upside down on a cooling rack to drain (I left them for about 10 minutes)
  5. Rinse of the salt with water – I used a colander to speed up the process and a slow running tap
  6. Pat them dry with kitchen towel
  7. Lay them on a baking tray covered with glad bake – cut side up 
  8. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary
  9. Put a whole knob of garlic on the tray (still in its skin)
  10. Bake at 100 degrees for 5 hours
  11. Peel the garlic
  12. Transfer the tomatoes and garlic to sterilised jars and fill with olive oil
Tip: to sterilise a jar – wash well and then boil for 10 minutes (including the lid); kmart has the preserving jars for $2 each

Have a great weekend everyone,


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