Real tomatoes

I have loved my first year growing fruit and veg. My patch is small and experimental but has produced some interesting surprises. Homegrown tomatoes, for one, have been a complete revelation – it’s incredible how tasty they are, eaten off the vine, hot from the sun and with a sprinkling of sea salt flakes (most fruit market or supermarket varieties are ripened in greenhouses and taste quite different). I think a real tomato should be included in the “100 foods you should eat before you die” Facebook app. Until I grew my own, I don’t think I had never tasted a real one.

Growing tomatoes isn’t as hard as you’d think and they can be planted in pots. The plants need daily watering (which you can automate), as much sun as possible, and some organic fertiliser. I grew 6 plants this season (a bit ambitious given the size of my plot) and found they were completely overcrowded but surprisingly this did not compromise on flavour – it just meant for a messy garden bed and some extra watering and fertilising. I experimented with a few tomato varieties – the beefsteak, roma and cherry tomatoes are my favourites.

For a few weeks in December, we had too many tomatoes to eat. I gave lots away and got to experiment with some good old fashioned pickling (I made ‘jarred’ tomatoes – just like the supermarket tinned variety but fresher and tastier) and I also tried my hand at preserving (and produced an amazing batch of tomato relish). The relish was so delicious I am going to add it to our menu for Kamilla Johns Real Food as a condiment to eat with our pies and fresh greens. As it turns out, for the food obsessed like me, pickling and preserving is not just a practical solution to an oversupply problem, it is ridiculously fun and creative and makes for fantastic gifts. But more on these pursuits later (I’ll post my ideas and recipes for pickling and preserving over the next few weeks).

Of course I have to negotiate with the caterpillars and birds and I do end up sharing some of our crop with them but I’m adjusting and taking my own advice to my kids on board – all organic farming, however small your plot or pot, seems to be about sharing; both with the good and evil bugs and insects, and in a more fun and less complicated way, with your neighbours when you’ve got a bountiful harvest of something.

Kamilla x

Categories: Recipes

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2 Comments on “Real tomatoes”

  1. Aileen Gabelich
    02/02/2012 at 7:35 am #

    This recipe is indeed deliciously habit forming even if we have to mortgage the front section to buy lamb in NZ. Look out for Kam’s chickpea salad recipe that goes really well with this too.

  2. Aileen Gabelich
    02/02/2012 at 7:41 am #

    My comment refers to the sumac lamb recipe on the eggplant page. Not sure how it here on the tomato page and I probably should have identified myself as the mother-in-law lucky enough to get to test drive some of Kam’s cooking.

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