Valley Bounty: Tomatoes

For many of you with a home garden, I’m sure the sudden onslaught of tomatoes from now-ish through mid-September, though delicious, can be a little overwhelming. Even those of us who get our tomatoes mostly through farm shares or the farmers’ market feel the tension between the desire to make the most of local tomato season while it’s here and the practical limits on how much Caprese salad a human being can consume in two short months. Fortunately, we have some options at our disposal to extend tomato season beyond its ordinary limits.

Homemade tomato paste is an easy way to store tomato flavor from the summer and enjoy it through the winter and spring. Quarter 8 to 10 pounds of tomatoes and simmer in olive oil until soft, then use a food mill or a sieve to separate the pulp from the skin and seeds. Combine the pulp with a pinch each of salt and citric acid and spread on a baking sheet. The mixture should roast in the oven for 3 to 4 hours, or until most of the moisture is gone. Tomato paste can be canned or frozen; add it to soups and sauces, use it to make homemade ketchup, or simply spread it on toast with some basil.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)