Preserved Tomatoes – Conserva de Tomates

 
Ready for a winter debut

Well, summer is here and I finally have my first glut of tomatoes.

Forgot to weigh them...

We also picked runner beans last night, although they are coming to an end now.

Run, Fat Bean, Run!

And the first of our bobby or French beans.  I planted two varieties, one green and one yellow, but so far I´m only seeing green ones!

´Allo, I am Claude and zis eez mon ami Bobby...

Because we  don´t use insecticides or nasty sprays, some of our tomatoes look a little quirky, but we don´t mind that.  It makes us love them all the more…

Faces made for the radio

Time to start laying some by in jars for the winter months. Last year I made what seemed like enough for the whole village, but by the end of April we ran out.  I am on a mission this year to make enough to last us until next summer.  It is a little bit of effort, but we have so many tomato plants and have also just done a second planting, that it makes sense to do it and enjoy all our hard work in the colder months.

For a great idea on how to use your tomato sauce, and also the way I make mine, head over to Tales of Ambrosia for a delicious aubergine and tomato sauce dish.

I started by cutting small crosses in my washed tomatoes.

Criss Cross

Then I blanched them for a minute or two in boiling water.

Into the hot tub...

After peeling and coring them I put them into my food mouli (although sometimes when I´m pressed for time I just blitz them with the hand blender). 

Scantily clad tomatoes

The mouli, if that´s the correct word in English, is a hand held vegetable mill and gets rid of any tough bits and seeds.

...and grind...

Every so often you´ll need to empty out the bits you´re left with.  You can either use these in soups or sauces or if you have chickens, like us, they love them as a special treat.

Your chickies will thank you!

You´ll be left with a purée of tomatoes which you can now freeze, use or bottle (can).

Gorgeous tomato pulp

When I am going to bottle or can them, I add half a teaspoon of salt per litre of  tomato and heat gently until just bubbling.

This then goes into sterilized jars which are tightly sealed then left to simmer in a bain marie for about 10 minutes and then left to cool down.

Today, as I had been cutting back my basil which is getting a bit overgrown, I added a spring of basil into each jar too.

Now put the jars away in a cool dark place and on a dull grey day, a few months ahead, you´ll be so glad you invested a little time on a hot summer´s day doing this!

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The Vegetable Garden – One Month On

I realised tonight that a month had flown past since we planted our vegetable “plugs” this year.  We´re catching up as we´ve has plenty of rain followed by sunshine and a few misty evenings, which the plants seem to love!

Our herbs are doing well, apart from my parsley and cilantro (coriander) which are still looking a bit sad.

I´ve let the sage flower as I think it looks so pretty.  I sometimes deep fry the large leaves in very hot olive oil for a few seconds and sprinkle with coarse sea salt as a little nibble with almonds and olive…and wine, of course!

Sage flowers

The mint is going crazy…these were the stragglers which I had to pull up later.

Rampaging Mint

I´ve also let the chives go to seed as the flowers are also lovely in salads.

Delicious chives...great for potato salad

The basil is almost ready for the first batch of pesto.

Fragrant Basil

We´ve got plum tomatoes.

A Future Sun Dried Tomato

We´ve got a “wild” tomato which has sprung up from a leftover seed from a squashed tomato from last year.  It has such a desire to live, we´ve let it do its own thing!

Born to be wild....!

We have some (very) bitter salad leaves and the delicious chard.  The celery tucked in there is slow to get going, but we´ll let it take its time.

Green Leaves and Bitter Leaves

Tomatoes, beans and the little muscat vines.

View down to my kitchen window

We´ve got rocket seedlings (must plant some more though)

Aaah....less than a week old

The first of the runner beans should be ready to pick in a few days

Teeny, tiny beans

The onions are doing well too

Onions in neat rows!

We´ve got long thin green peppers and large bell peppers – but we can´t remember which are which.  We´ll soon find out!

Which one are you then?

Cucumber flowers

Grown from last year´s seeds

The aubergine flowers are so pretty – wish they´d hurry up as I love aubergines (eggplant!)

Hurry Up! Hurry Up!

Dwarf French beans (yellow and green) which we only planted a week ago

Not quite Jack & The Beanstalk, but working on it!

And finally, radish seedlings…not long now!

Peppery and Pretty!

As I said, we´re a little behind this year because of the very wet spring that we had, but we´re happy with progress so far and already dreaming of grilled vegetables, salads and bunches of grapes.  Happy growing to you all!