Tomatoes originated in Peru, where the plant grew in the wild, bearing fruits not larger than a cherry. Spanish explorers brought tomatoes back to Spain and from there they were gradually introduced into the rest of Europe. The Elizabethans called them love apples (a reference to their supposed aphrodisiac properties) and golden apples because the first tomatoes to reach the shores of England were not the familiar bright red, but yellow.
Too many tomatoes? No problem!
If you are a keen tomato grower you’ll find yourself with an abundance of old tomatoes at the moment, but you can preserve your excess crop by slow baking them. This is an excellent way to use up the reddest, ripest tomatoes if you have a bumper crop, or even if you’ve bought cheap ones from the market. Once they are cooked and semi-dried you can keep them in olive oil with oregano, thyme or basil in sterilised kilner jars and keep refrigerated. Use them chopped or blended into a pasta sauce, soup or in homemade baked beans and baked eggs. They are also delicious served with your garden rocket leaves or similar garden leaves and slices of prosciutto or any quality ham.
Here are some more easy ways to save tomatoes for future use:
- Just wash and core the tomatoes, place them on a tray and put them in the freezer.
- When you have hard red tomatoes, put them in freezer bags to be taken out later in the amount you need. The skins slip right off when the tomato thaws. These can be a base for soup, sauce or stewed tomatoes.
- Wash tomatoes and drop them into boiling hot water 5-10 sec, drop in ice water straight away.Then peel, core, chop up, boil until almost broken.Blend with a hand-held blender, strain, to get pulp and seeds out simmer until halved or less - now it’s like marinara spaghetti sauce. Pour into jars (washed sterilized), add half spoon of lemon juice, teaspoon of salt on top (do not mix) and tighten up lids. Then refrigerate.