Valley Bounty: Tomatoes: August 16, 2014

If you haven’t broken out your canning equipment yet, you have no more excuses. Tomatoes are the rock stars of summer and Valley farmers grow them all, from basic red to exotic, heirloom, and paste varieties. Many farmers sell tomatoes in bulk for preserving, and for many savvy cooks and gardeners, canning tomatoes is what August is all about. It’s also ok to skip the cooking and just keep slicing and eating those beauties (if you pick this route, look for local tomato sauce from a few farmers next winter). Find canning classes and recipes below!

By Abby Getman of Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)

Click here for a list of all farms with tomatoes.

Preservation Information & Events:

CISA’s food preservation resource list, including canning links and resources, is here. If you’d prefer in-person help learning food preservation skills, watch CISA’s events page for classes. On August 18th, Sarah Berquist of Food For All Amherst and Graduate Student at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture is teaching a free preservation workshop at CDH’s Not Bread Alone kitchen from 5:00pm – 7:00pm. This hands-on workshop will cover the basics of preservation with stations of jams, fermentation, and pestos. A great community event for all experience levels! Find out more here.

For a big hit of all things tomato, visit Red Fire Farm’s annual Tomato Festival on August 23rd. Good food, workshops, music and more—plus an opportunity to taste over 150 varieties of tomatoes. At the Granby farm location; details here.


From mid-August until a hard frost, the scent of stewing tomatoes permeated my back-to-school days. In tribute to my mother’s steadfast canning, I’ve asked her for (only a few) of her favorite tomato recipes to share.

Tomato Juice: By Mary Getman

My mother’s take on V8 is great—I’ve never been one for sweet drinks at breakfast, so I enjoy a cup of her tomato-veggie juice with a weekend brunch (and it is more local than orange juice!). Her recipe is time-tested and delicious, and very similar to one that has been tested by the USDA (as well as CISA staffer Margaret Christie, who says it is delicious!). Find the recipe on page 18 of this useful publication from the University of Wisconsin  (they call it soup, but we think it’s good as juice).

Roasted Jalapeno-Tomato Salsa: By Mary Getman
1 ½ lbs tomatoes, preferably plum
2-3 fresh jalapenos, stemmed
½ white onion, sliced 1/4” thick
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp (generous) salt
1 ½ tsp cider vinegar
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Heat broiler. Lay whole tomatoes & jalapenos on broiler pan. Set pan 4” below broiler & broil approximately 6 minutes, until darkly roasted. With pair of tongs, turn and roast the other side for about 6 minutes more. The goal is to char them while also cooking them thoroughly. Turn oven down to 425, lay out onions on the baking sheet with garlic. Roast in oven until onions are browned and wilted, and garlic is browned (about 15 mins). Cool. Pull off peels and cores from tomatoes, keeping all the juices! In a food processor, pulse jalapenos, onions & garlic until moderately finely chopped, scraping everything down with a spatula as needed. Scoop into a big bowl. Without washing the processor, puree tomatoes with all the accumulated juices and add them to the bowl. Stir in cilantro. If needed, add water to give salsa an easily spoon-able consistency. Taste & season with salt and vinegar as needed. Best if it can sit for at least 1 hour for flavors to meld. Serve with tortilla chips.

Basil Stuffed Tomatoes: By Mary Getman

Preheat oven to 350

3 large, meaty (slicing) tomatoes
2/3 Cup crushed saltines (about 15)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp celery salt
½ tsp paprika
½ stick melted butter
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Grated Parmesan if desired
Core and cut tomatoes in half. Scoop out meaty portion– chop and set aside in a medium bowl. Place cored tomato halves in baking pan. With the chopped tomato flesh, combine crackers and remaining ingredients. Divide stuffing among tomatoes and bake for 15-20 mins until stuffing is golden. Top with grated Parmesan if desired.