The Indolent Homesteader: Tomatoes

I’m drowning in tomatoes here.

This spring, when I had my dozens and dozens of baby tomato plants sitting out, my husband said, “You’ve started too many tomatoes.”
And I retorted, “I did not. We will use all the tomatoes we get.” I said it very grandly, very confidently, the way a person who hasn’t eaten tomatoes since last summer and is dying to taste some would say it.

I try very hard not to buy produce out of season (and I’m trying very hard not to buy produce at all now), so I never buy tomatoes at the store. There’s no point, in my mind. They’re expensive, even here in California, and they taste terrible.

So by the time spring rolls around and the greens of the winter garden have lost their charm, I’m desperate for some tomatoes. (Eggplant, too.) And when you’re desperate for them, you’ll buy all twenty varieties of tomato that catch your eye in the seed catalogs. You’ll start every last seed too, and when your husband speaks reason, your tomato fevered brain won’t listen.

But now I’m drowning in tomatoes.

And my husband was right.

If I were a better person, I would be wrestling even now with the ancient pressure canner I got from my dad, trying to preserve every last tomato. But since I’m lazy, and I’d rather be finishing with the first draft of the novel I’m working on, I’m coming up with easier ways to use up the tomatoes.

Dinner includes tomatoes every night, of course, salads are composed entirely of tomatoes, and the kids are taking care of the cherry tomatoes, straight off the vine.

But my favorite easy way to take care of these tomatoes?

Pico de gallo. The recipe I use for this is adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and by adapted, I mean vaguely remembered from when I read it last, which was probably a year ago.

It goes like this: Take a cuisinart. (This is the lazy part.) Toss in some fresh tomatoes, some onion, garlic, cilantro, and salt. Pulse until it looks like salsa. Serve.

If you like, you can add some hot peppers, but we don’t, because we have very delicate, shrinking tastebuds that do not like spicy things.

The tomatoes and the garlic are homegrown in mine. I should probably grow onions next year (I have no idea why I didn’t plant any this year). My cilantro bolted a week after it came up, so no homegrown cilantro either, although I did try. And of course, I don’t make my own salt. So this salsa earns a failing grade on the self sufficiency scale.

But it is delicious, and it’s an easy way to help beat back the tomato tide.

(Next post will likely be titled “Conquering the Pressure Cooker”. Or, more likely, “I Have Been Conquered by the Pressure Cooker”.)

5 responses to “The Indolent Homesteader: Tomatoes

  1. And my poor Italian neighbour is bemoaning his still-green and puny city-grown tomatoes. But he handed me a somewhat wizened but loving cucumber this morning and twelve green beans.

    • I envy you your cucumber! I think this will be the last year I try cucumbers, I’ve had the worst luck with them the past three years.

      • In his broken English, my neighbour tried to tell me that his cucumbers were “seek” this year, so you are not alone in your cucumber troubles! I ate it with my dinner, stuffed tomatoes Greek-style … ha, a painstaking recipe that takes forever! … and the cucumber was mildly green-tasting and earthy (not like the super-market stuff) and had a massive core of oodles of gelatinous seeds. I liked it.

  2. I canned 12 pints of crushed yellow tomatoes on Friday. And I have to do an entire other flat. Just from the yellow ones.

    There might be such a thing as too many tomatoes. ; )

    • When we went to the racetrack last week, there was a horse named Toomanytomatoes. I think it’s a common problem for many. 🙂
      And I can never remember this when it’s the dead of winter and I really, really want tomatoes.

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