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How to harvest tomatoes all year

What up harvest time? It's getting colder at nights and I know it won't be too long before I have to throw a tarp over some of my tomatoes. 
If you're feeling overwhelmed, Treehugger has five ways to take advantage of this fruit (even during the coldest days of winter):

1. Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce is a no-brainer way to use up tomatoes, and this recipe calls for just a few simple ingredients — 5 pounds of overripe Romas, garlic, salt, basil, thyme, and olive oil — and basic technique: Jerry roasted his quartered tomatoes at 175 degrees overnight.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation details the procedure for preserving tomato sauce, but you can also just pop the sauce in the freezer (try putting it in airtight bags on cookie sheets to freeze it in a flat, space-saving shape).

More tomatoes

Nora Bingaman remembers being 10 or 12 in the 1950s and living in Hood River, Oregon.

"I used to come home from school, grab the salt shaker and head to the backyard. I would pick a big, red, ripe, sometimes warm tomato from the vine, brush off the dust and eat it right there in the garden. Sometimes eating another one. I had to bend over a bit to keep from dripping onto my school clothes."

Slice answer

"The best tomatoes I ever tasted were from my grandmother's garden in Culver City, California during the late '30s and early '40s," wrote Leila Larson.

Tomatoes galore

If you have a lot of tomatoes, this traditional recipe for tomato preserves is a fun way to use them.

Savory and sweet, it makes a nice addition to a meat and cheese tray.

Tomato Preserves

From "Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving."

1 tablespoon pickling spice
1 1/2-inch piece peeled gingerroot
4 cups granulated sugar
2 medium lemons (unpeeled), seeded and thinly sliced
3/4 cup water
6 cups peeled small yellow, green or red tomatoes (see note)

Tie pickling spice and gingerroot in a square of cheesecloth creating a spice bag.
In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan combine sugar, lemon slices, water and spice bag. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and boil gently, stirring frequently, until tomatoes are transparent. Remove from heat, cover and let stand in a cool place for 12 to 18 hours.
Prepare canner, jars and lids.
Using a slotted spoot, transfer tomatoes and lemon slices to a glass or stainless steel bowl and set aside. Discard spice bag. Bring syrup to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil hard, stirring constantly until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add reserved tomatoes and lemons. Bring back to a boil and boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off foam.
Ladle hot preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headpsace, if necessary, by adding hot preserves wipe rim. Center lid on jar Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.
Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 20 minutes for elevations up to 1,000 feet. Add 5 minutes of processing time for elevations up to 2,000 feet. Add 10 minutes for elevations up to 3,000 feet.
Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.
Yield: 6- 8 ounce jars.
Note: To peel tomatoes, place them in a pot of boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until the skins start to crack. Immediately dip in cold water. The skins will slip off easily.


Bill Hall: In Search Of The 1st Tomato

This is the time of year when I keep a close eye on our tomato plants. But I didn't know until now that the tomato plants may be keeping an eye on me. Daniel Chamovitz, author of the book "What a Plant Knows," makes a convincing case for the premise that plants can see. Maybe that sounds like a joke, or perhaps still another writer with insane ideas stretched into a theory. But, depending on how you define "seeing," Chamovitz makes persuasive point. "A plant sees what we see," he says. "A plant sees light. So if you take someone who's completely blind and by surgery in some way giving them a camera, allow them to see just shadows, would we say that person now has rudimentary sight?" Bear in mind, this is a time of year when home tomato growers are going after bragging rights for the first ripe tomato in the neighborhood. My wife and I are among the contenders here on the bank of the Snake River less than a mile from the lowest and therefore warmest spot in Idaho/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: How are your tomatoes doing?

The Slice recommends

Going to www.npr.org, clicking on "Programs" and then tracking down the "Fresh Air" discussion of how industrial farming made tomatoes lose their flavor.  

Munts: Tomato Time — Or Not

What’s wrong with my tomato? This seems to be the most popular question asked of the WSU Master Gardeners in the past couple of weeks. Usually the question comes attached to a handful of almost-ripe tomatoes with blackened or mushy bottoms. Ah, yes, tomato blossom end rot has appeared in all its glory/Pat Munts, Handle Extra. (SR photo) More here

Question: I’ve been able to harvest the cherry tomatoes and a few of the smaller varieties I’ve planted but I continue to wait for the big ones to turn red. Anyone else having trouble with their garden tomatoes this fall?