Tomatoes this year? A mixed bag. The cherry tomatoes—one Sungold and a black cherry—were prolific, as was a full-sized green variety called Aunt Ruby's. The two Purple Cherokees, on the other hand, were disappointing, both in terms of healthy plant growth and yield. The darker tomatoes are our perennial favorites for their robust flavor and gung-ho willingness to lend a hand for slicing, as well as serving in sandwiches and tomato salads, so we'll probably opt for another variety next year.
A simple sandwich.
Fortunately, though, the farmers' markets and local supermarkets have given us plenty of supplemental, organic "heirloom" tomatoes—a term d'art used to describe not just old varieties, but almost any open-pollinated (i.e. non-hybrid) tomato, whether bred for commercial or private consumption.
And consume them we have, from simply sliced on a platter to wedging them between two slices of Dave's homemade whole wheat bread to a snack bowl of cherry tomatoes on the kitchen island, perfect for grabbing as you pass by. There's been cool gazpacho and panzanella, and more of those cherry tomatoes tossed in a grilled corn salad. And of course let's not forget the pasta with cherry tomatoes, garlic and anchovies that's one of our go-to quick dinners.
Even after all that, there was a moment when I walked in from the garden with another gallon of cherry tomatoes—we were also watering our vacationing neighbors' tomato plants, which were producing like crazy—and I would have shed some tomato-laced tears, but I remembered a tomato jam (top photo) I made a few years ago.
So if you get to that "too many tomatoes" stage and you've made all the tomato dishes you can think of, and even created a few more out of sheer desperation, here's a simple fix for the problem that you can enjoy any time this winter when the supply of the fresh article has dwindled.
Adapted from Mark Bittman for the New York Times
1 1/2 lbs. good ripe tomatoes(Roma are best), cored and coarsely chopped
1 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp. fresh grated or minced ginger
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt
1 jalapeño or other peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced, or red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste.
Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then cool and refrigerate until ready to use; this will keep at least a week. [I put them in clean, lidded glass jars and freeze them. - KB]
Yield: About 1 pint.