Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Confession of a Penitent Tomato Hoarder

One of the blessings of growing our own food this year has been sharing. We have been happy to share our surplus with friends, co-workers, people from church, and neighbors. We have given away zucchini, squash, asian pears, apples, homemade jam... Generosity gives meaning to life and sharing is one of the joys of growing a garden.

But I have a confession to make. For a long time, I was hoarding tomatoes.

Our tomatoes have taken their sweet time ripening this season, and once finally they started to ripen I was so exuberant I just couldn't bear to share. I wanted those tomatoes in sandwiches, on bruschetta, I wanted them in tacos and pasta and I wanted to bake them into a tart.

Well, I've had them in all those forms (and more!) and so last night, I gave away several dozen of my prized Black Krims to friends at church. I can't say part of me doesn't miss those little guys. Another part of me felt like giving those just-picked tomatoes away was important, because I fully believe that once you taste a unique, vine-ripened heirloom tomato that has reached its fullest potential, how can you go back to bland grocery store varieties? I know it's dreaming big, but I would love it if someone else decided to grow a garden as a result of a humble homegrown tomato.

In the meantime, I appreciate this summer heat and hope that it hastens the ripening of my next batch of tomatoes in the garden. And I will fantasize about all of my favorite ways to eat this ... vegetable! Did you know that the Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes are legally classified as vegetables? Here are just a few ideas to use up your summer bounty:

I love this sandwich idea from Chez Danisse's blog. I use fresh honey wheat bread from the Farmer's Market, and as for cheese, am partial to Kerrygold Irish cheddar or Beecher's Flagship (made in Seattle's Pike Place Market).

For extra tomatoes, I dice and freeze them. In 2 months, tomato soup is going to hit the spot, and frozen ripe tomatoes are the key to the best tomato soup.

My go-to method for eating heirloom tomatoes is to slice them, drizzle with balsamic and EVOO, sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and toss in whatever fresh herbs I have on hand. Basil is always a good idea, but chives or thyme can change it up a bit. It's simple and obvious, but it really needs no elaboration.

This summer, I have also enjoyed Ratatouille and Sourdough Panzanella. Happy tomato season to all!

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