Thursday, 31 July 2014

Tomatoes? Get your Nightshades ON!

Always it happens - You plant a few tomato seedlings and just when you get to enjoy a few salads and then BAM! too many tomatoes. I love this seasonal bounty when it happens because it allows me to draw out all the stoppers of creativity to make the most of the season.

The tomato is native to central South America and was cultivated by the Aztecs centuries before the Spanish explorers introduced it to all over the world. There are many hundreds of cultivar varieties of different type and size. Most cultivars produce red fruits, however, a number of cultivars have yellow, orange, pink, purple, green, or white coloured fruits.

The Tomato Festival is a tradition in Spain since 1945 and there are several theories about how it began, but no one knows for sure. One of the most popular theories is that during a town celebration the city councilman were attacked by some discontented people. The people enjoyed this so much, that they repeated the event the next year, and in a couple of years a tradition was established.

In Magickal tradition the tomato is a fruit associated with heart health, money, love and love's protection. Not surprising that it is also associated with the planetary energies of Venus.



Health benefits of Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the low-calorie fruits and have just 18 calories per 100 g. They have zero fat and zero dietary cholesterol. Nonetheless, they are an excellent sources of antioxidants, dietary fibre, minerals and vitamins.
The antioxidants present in tomatoes are scientifically found to be protective of cancers, including colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic tumours. The total -ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) in this vegetable is 367 µmol TE/100 g.
Lycopene, a flavonoid antioxidant, is an unique phytochemical present in the tomatoes. Red varieties are especially concentrated in this antioxidant. Together with carotenoids, lycopene may help protect cells and other structures in the human body from harmful oxygen-free radicals. Studies have shown that lycopene protects the skin from ultra-violet (UV) rays and thus offers some defence against skin cancer.
Zea-xanthin is another flavonoid compound present abundantly in this vegetable. Zea-xanthin helps protect eyes from "age-related macular disease" (ARMD) in the elderly by filtering harmful ultra-violet rays.
This fruit contains very good levels of vitamin A, and flavonoid anti-oxidants such as α and ß-carotenes, xanthins and lutein. Altogether, these pigment compounds are found to have antioxidant properties and take part in good vision, maintain healthy mucus membranes and skin, and bone health. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in flavonoids is known to help protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
Additionally, they are also good source of antioxidant vitamin-C (provide 21% of recommended daily levels per 100 g); consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful free radicals.
Fresh tomato is very rich in potassium. 100 g contain 237 mg of potassium and just 5 mg of sodium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure caused by sodium.
Further, they carry average levels of vital B-complex vitamins such as folates, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin as well some essential minerals like iron, calcium, manganese and other trace elements.

Semi Dried Tomatoes

preserved in sunflower oil
with bay and peppercorn

2 kg ripe Roma tomatoes
3 tbsp sea salt
3 tlsp caster sugar

Halve tomatoes lengthwise,
Leaving attached along one side. Remove cores and seeds with a grapefruit knife. Stand tomato “shells” upright on a wire rack. Scatter with one third of the salt and sugar and leave to drain for 4 – 6 hours. Scatter with another third of salt and sugar and leave another 30 minutes. Turn over and allow to drain. Leave a further 4 – 6 hours. Stand upright again and scatter with remaining salt and sugar. Leave for a further 4 – 6 hours.
Arrange the tomatoes on a rack in a fan-forced oven. Set temperature at  50 - 75°C and dry for about 4 – 5 hours. Adjust oven temperature as required. Tomatoes must not darken. Turn over when tops are dry and continue for a further 2 – 3 hours until bottoms are also dry. Cool on rack, store in an air tight jar with a bag of silica gel.
(If you wish to dry the whole tomato out, seed and all rather than wasting it, just allow for an extra hour or so in the oven to dry)

Tomato Soup

Tomato soup

3kg beef bones
2kg tomatoes very ripe, diced
3 cloves garlic
2 onions diced
2 sprigs sage
2 bunch basil
salt and pepper to taste (a fair bit may be needed)

Roast the beef bones with a sprinkle of salt and pepper until a fair amount of caramalisation has occurred and they are nicely browned. Place in a large stock pot and just cover with water and add tomatoes, onions and garlic. Cover and simmer until the tomatoes collapse and then for 40 minutes more.
Remove the bones and allow to cool while the stock and veg simmers and reduces.
Skim any excess fat and scum from the top of the soup.
When the bones are cool enough to handle pick off any meat you can find, chop and return to the soup.
Taste and adjust the seasoning and blend with a stick blender until smooth.
Taste and adjust again for seasoning if required.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a fine shred of fresh herb
A crust roll or some toasted sour dough would not go astray.

Spicy Tomato Relish

Spicy Tomato Relish

2.5 kg ripe tomatoes cut into small dice
500 g red onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
2 tspn cumin seeds
3 long dried chilli peppers
475 ml white wine vinegar (we used 1/2 apple cider 1/2 white balsamic)
220 g raw sugar

Place the diced tomato and the onion slices in a shallow dish and sprinkle with the salt. Leave overnight. Use a mortar and pestle to crush the mustard, cumin and chilli peppers. Drain the tomatoes and onions and place the pulp in a saucepan with the spices, vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered for 45 min. stirring frequently. Remove the lid and simmer for a further 15-min. Spoon the hot relish into sterilised jars, filling completely. Cover.

Tomato Relish

3 kg tomatoes
1 kg onions
2 cups vinegar
1.5 tbsp dry mustard
1.5 tblspn curry powder
750 g sugar
3 tbsp salt
dash cayenne pepper
4 tbsp cornflour, slaked with water

Scald and skin tomatoes, sprinkle with half the salt and leave overnight.
Peel and chop onions, sprinkle with half the salt and leave overnight.
Next day combine the two mixes with the sugar in a large pan. Mix the other ingredients in well and bring to the boil and simmer for at least an hour. Thicken with the cornflour, stirring well to avoid lumps, then boil a while longer, usually around 2 hours in all.

Tomato Pasta Sauce
spaghetti and meatballs
with tomato pasta sauce

1.5 kg ripe tomato
1 large brown onion
1 carrot
1 stick celery
125 ml olive oil
1/2 tspn sugar
4 tbsp verjuice or white wine
freshly ground black pepper
2 large basil leaves

Wash the tomatoes and cut into quarters and place in a pan. Peel and chop the onion, carrot and celery and add to the pan with the oil, tossing to coat well. Add the salt and sugar and place the pan over a high heat. Stir constantly to prevent burning until it starts to caramelise and the liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the verjuice, check for seasoning and add the basil, torn. Fill jars with the sauce and seal.

Tomato Kasundi

225 g ginger, peeled
100 g garlic, peeled
50 g green chillies, sliced in half and seeds removed
600 ml malt vinegar
300 ml canola oil
2 tbsp turmeric
5 tbsp ground cumin
3 tbsp chilli powder
5 tbsp mustard seeds, ground to a powder
2 kg tomatoes, washed and chopped
450 g salt
3 tbsp sugar

Puree ginger, garlic and chilli to a paste with a little of the vinegar. Heat the oil in a preserving pan and add all the ground spices and heat gently. Add the paste, tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and half the salt, stir and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the oil is all floating on the surface. Taste and add more salt as needed. Bottle into sterilised jars while hot. Pour a slick of hot oil over the surface to prevent the preserve from drying and cover with screw tops. Leave for a couple of weeks for the flavours to develop.
This is great with lamb, chicken, rice or lentils. It can be used as a marinade, and is great with cheese.

Green tomato chutney

8 cups green tomatoes , peeled and sliced
¼ cup pickling salt
1 ½ onions , peeled
8 cups apples , chopped
1 ½ green peppers , chopped
1 ½ fresh long hot red peppers (optional)
2 cups vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons pickling spices
3 cups brown sugar
½ teaspoon chilli powder
Put layers of tomatoes with pickling salt.
Add enough cold water to cover tomatoes.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Drain& rinse the Tomatoes
Put them a large pot place and add Onions, apples, green pepper and vinegar.
Bring to a boil and boil 30 minutes.
Tie the pickling spice in gauze and add to the pot.
Stir in the brown sugar.
Simmer over low heat for about 2 hours
Watch that it doesn't burn! Pour into sterilised jars, seal and water bath for 10 minutes.

Roasted Tomato Sauce
Roasted Tomato Sauce

2 kg tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 onions sliced thickly
1 capsicum deseeded
1/2 cup olive oil
Few sprigs sage
bunch basil
Fresh pepper, a little salt & sugar to taste

Place everything into a baking dish and toss to spread & oil.
Cook at about 180°C for 35 – 40 mins until all softened. Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic soft centres from the skin and return to the tomatoes, discarding the papery skins.
Blend together, including the oily juices, tasting and correcting seasoning. Pour into sterilised jars, seal and water bath for 10 minutes.
cockle butter ravioli with roasted tomato sauce


  1. Some great receipes there Helen. Can't wait to try making my own sundired tomatos and the tomato Kasundi looks flavoursome and a mix of spice that I love. Of course I'm still in planning mode until we move into the new place and have a chance to grow our own and live off the land a bit more, but I'm thinking that your blog is going to be an endless resource for me!

    1. Its Kelly (Blogchicks) by the way. Google has grabbed my old blogger username!

    2. about to have some more tomato adventures and plant out some for summer yum. The Spice Tomato relish is my favourite as I found it an excellent dip mixed wit some soured cream and the vinegary liquid made a perfect dressing for feta and salads.

  2. I am a huge fan of tomatoes and am planning on planting a tomato plant soon. These little tips are grat incase those bad boys get out of control! Bec x

    1. out of control tomatoes are the best .. they make you get creative lol

  3. Found it just in time, the green tomato chutney that is. Love the chilli in it.
    Frost is around, mild one last night burned all the tender leaves of the beans and tomatoes, so I'd better get out there and harvest.
    Thanks for the recipe. Should you feel the urge to listen to an audiobook you will find me here