My husband and I are realists (pessimists?) when it comes to planting tomatoes. After a few years of trial & error, we now stick with planting the smaller grape & cherry tomatoes. The harvest is always plentiful, even when the warm weather is not, giving our green thumbs a real ego boost. This summer was a disappointing one in the gardening department. Cool weather meant later crops and smaller harvests. As signs of fall start to appear, most gardeners are moaning about all their green tomatoes hanging on the vines:
“Tomatoes have everyone feeling blue, rather than seeing red. Several times a day, someone asks me despondently why they don’t have ripe fruit. I think I should wear a sign that says, “You’re not doing anything wrong.” It’s just been too cool and moist. Not even the professionals are successful this year. I talked to Josh Kirschenbaum, who does product development for Territorial Seed Co., and was astonished to learn that of the 300 varieities growing in the trial gardens at London Spring near Cottage Grove, only about 10 had ripened by Aug. 25. And they know what they’re doing. The tomatoes that had come along were cherry types or ultra-early varieties.” – from “Color it Sad” by Kym Pokorny, The Oregonian HGNW 9/9/10
There are uses for green tomatoes, but if you’re more interested in the red ones, there are several options. You can find a field to pick your own or you can talk with farmers at local markets or garden stands about buying them pre-picked. Ask them if they can cut you a deal on a larger order.
You could roast & freeze tomatoes or marinara sauce, can tomatoes for use in a hundred different fall/winter recipes, or split them with other people and eat them fresh. The possibilities are endless. Here are a handful of my current favorite tomato recipes:
This year, I am doing a bit of everything. I ordered canning tomatoes grown in Washington from Growers Outlet, a great little place on 161st & Glisan in Portland. Some of their produce is overpriced, but they do have good deals tucked in here and there, especially when buying in bulk. I ordered 500 pounds (I know, crazy, right?) that I plan on evenly splitting with 4 other women.
By placing one big order instead of five smaller ones, we scored a better deal, paying $13 instead of $14.95/25 lb. box. We are going to help each other can them over the course of a few days next week. In the end, we’ll each pay around $50 for over 40 quarts of canned tomatoes each with a few pounds left over for other uses. It should be fun. Exhausting, but fun.
Any success in your garden this year? If not, where do you buy tomatoes? What is your favorite way to use them?
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