I declare 2021, The Year of the Tomato! Forget COVID, late frosts, and marauding ground hogs, I have harvested the most tomatoes that I can remember in my many years of gardening.
Bad Start to a Tomato Year
With an inauspicious start – an unusually late killing frost around Mother’s day – I was left with only half of my carefully nurtured transplants started in February alive. The other half were barely alive and were withered blackened stumps poking above the soil.
After panic shopping for some replacement tomatoes, the withered stumps of my transplants started to sprout leaves and grow, so I ended up with about 25-30 tomato plants, about 10 more than I normally grow.
What to Do With all Those Tomatoes?
Yes, I had to do something with them or they rot in a few days after picking. Now, I am dealing with the consequences. As fast as I can give them away, a new crop comes in from the garden. We eat them garnishing omelettes for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and fried, au gratined, sauced, or even baked in bread for dinner.
Upside-Down Heirloom Tomato Cornbread
Upside Down Heirloom Cornbread was a crowd pleaser and delicious too! It lasted for several meals and was even better heated up the second day.
Upside-Down Heirloom Tomato Cornbread
- 3 Large Heirloom Tomatoes Sliced into 1/2 inch rounds; I added some smaller ones
- 2 C Yellow Cornmeal Fine or Coarse
- 1 C All-Purpose Flour
- 1 T Baking Powder
- 2 tsp Salt
- 2 1/4 C Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided Smoked or plain
- 1 C Fresh Corn Kernels About 2 Ears
- 1-2 Jalapeno chopped & seeded
- 1 3/4 C Buttermilk
- 6 T Butter Melted
- 2 Eggs
- 2 T Sugar
- Garnish with additional Basil Leaves
Preheat over to 400 degrees and line bottom of cast iron skillet with a round of parchment paper. Spray parchment paper and sides of skillet with cooking spray.
Cut the tomatoes into slices and lay on paper towels to drain while you mix the batter.
In large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in 1 1/2 C cheese, corn, basil, and jalapeno. Make a well in the center.
In another bowl, whisk buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients, stirring until just combined.
Place tomato slices in bottom of prepared skillet, overlapping if needed. Sprinkle with sugar and top with 1/2 C of shredded cheese. Spoon batter onto tomatoes, smoothing.
Bake until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes clean - 30-35 minutes.
Let cool in skillet for 10 minutes and then invert bread onto serving platter. Top with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese. Garnish with basil.
Drying, canning, saucing, jamming, and preserving tomatoes has consumed my days. And I have sauce down to an art! It uses the most tomatoes in the quickest amount of time and I have cut corners to make it with minimal effort.
No peeling and seeding for me! I wash and core them and plop them into a dutch oven on the stove top and let them simmer until they become sauce. Here is the basic recipe, but you notice I don’t have quantities for much of anything. Play it all by ear. Just throw in what you have on your kitchen counter, and I can assure you, you will be successful.
Easy Method Tomato Sauce
An easy to prepare tomato sauce that you can throw anything else in that you have in the garden
- Fresh ripe tomatoes, any kind Core, and cut in half
- 1-5 Fresh Peppers, any kind Core, and chop into large pieces
- Bunch Fresh thyme sprigs
- Dollop Honey
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Oregano, dried or fresh
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 Chopped Onion
- Chopped Fresh Basil
Core and cut in half your tomatoes and place in dutch oven on medium high heat. An alternative is to place cut up tomatoes in a large roasting pan and roast at 400 degrees for an hour and then dump them into your dutch oven to cook further
When the mixture is bubbling away, throw in whole thyme sprigs, the bay leaf, honey, salt and pepper, fresh peppers, and onion
Cook for at least an hour or two and remove the thyme sprigs. By this time, all the leaves will disappear and the stems will be left
Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth
Continue cooking for an hour or so until the sauce thickens to your liking. You could even add a small can of tomato paste to make it nice and thick
Take it off the stove top and add chopped up basil and stir it in
Once the mixture completely cools, put into containers and refrigerate or freeze
I use my most useful kitchen appliance in my kitchen to blend everything together into a sauce – an immersion blender.