Here in the frozen north, it is difficult to grow tomatoes. Even started indoors, the season is too short to allow the tomatoes to ripen on the vine unless they are in a greenhouse. At least, it is too short here on the farm because we are in a low valley and get late and early frosts.
So, at the first warning of frost, I picked the tomatoes, green albeit, but I was not about to lose them as I had last year, frozen even though under a heavy quilt. In they came.
They have been ripening in two boxes sitting on the floor in the house. I meant to take them downstairs and spread them on newspaper, but that did not happen. I was eating them almost as fast as they were ripening. I planted four varieties, a beefstake, which did not get nearly as large fruits as the ones in my father's garden, but were delicious just the same. There was a small purple tomato that ripens yellow with a few purple spots. It is good, but I don't think I would plant it again. I prefer the 1000 variety for being prolific, ripening and growing at the same time and the sweet tart tomatoes. There were two others, heritage varieties, but I don't recall their names. They were just OK. Next year, I will plant some oxhearts, a tomato that is large and fleshy with few seeds, but not pulpy like a Roma. My godmother gave me some from her garden, seeds that were from my aunt in Saskatchewan years back.
I had been meaning to make fermented green tomato pickles, but by the time I got back from the visit with my mother, the green tomatoes were so few, that I switched to fermented almost ripe and ripe tomatoes. These are done similar to any fermented pickle. I used the small purple tomatoes that turned yellow and added the few still green ones too. The brine is two teaspoons of salt for a half gallon and water. 6 peeled cloves of garlic, 2 handfulls of fresh dill, a small handful of pickling salt, a dash of cayenne pepper and about a teaspoon of black peppercorns are also in the jar. In a few days, the fermentation process will be underway, and in a week the tomatoes will be good. In two weeks they will be fantastic. The juice is also a tasty treat and apparently, like tomato juice, is a hangover helper, though I have not tried that theory.
I also made a large pot of tomato soup! Into the pot went an onion, peeled garlic cloves, one potato and one large carrot, dried basil, salt and pepper. This simmered much of the day and then it was pureed with the stick blender right in the pot. It was delicious! Later, I added a half pint of heavy cream for a cream of tomato soup to share with my sons tomorrow.
The rest of the ripe tomatoes were frozen whole and during the winter will be used for more delicious soups, maybe a chili or stew and certainly for curried goat. That tangy fresh garden tomato flavour can't be duplicated and store bought tomatoes simply do not compare. I seldom buy them in the winter at all. I wish I had grown three times as many this year. Oh well, next year I will!