Thursday, September 15, 2011


After a long summer of watching, weeding, watering, and waiting, tying up and trimming, the tomatoes finally started to ripen...and now they won't stop!!

If you remember WAY back in the spring, I started 5 different varieties of tomato, some with seeds I saved from last year, 1 from a family member, and 1 from a seed catalog, totaling 139 tomato plants for our garden, after giving away a whole bunch.

The grape tomatoes were among those saved from last year, and they have grown superbly and produced literally buckets full of sweet, oblong, grape-sized tomatoes.  These are the best for eating straight out of the garden, perfect for any child-sized helping hands as they are so easy to pick, and have huge yields from each plant so they are definitely going to be a repeat in next years garden plan.


Roma tomatoes are what I usually grow for canning crushed tomatoes and making/canning sauce.  I also started these with last years seeds that I saved from plants I purchased.  This year they grew kind of on the small side, but I like them really well for their ease in skinning and de-seeding.

Amish Paste
I purchased seed for Amish Paste Tomatoes from a catalog.  They are supposed to be great big plants with meaty tomatoes, and they did grow to a pretty good size, however, most have not ripened nicely and have big cracks in the top stem end. In addition, they seem to be more attractive to bugs (probably because of the cracking) and have a lot of seeds.  Overall I am disappointed with this variety, but since it may be the rainy weather affecting its ripening...I have not completely disqualified it yet.  I have saved some seed for now, at least until next year's planning requires a decision.

Family Heirloom
My family heirloom tomatoes have done about the same as the above Amish tomatoes, in that the vines grew very big, had promising-looking big green tomatoes, but then the ripening was less than desirable.  The blossom ends of the fruits have been turning nice red, but the upper half of the tomato (toward the stem) is staying green and hard and cracking.  Again it may be related to weather this year, and since they ARE family heirloom seeds I have set seeds aside and hope for better results next year.   For now I am just cutting off the unripened parts and using the remainder, which has good flavor, in sauce.

Salsa Tomatoes
Now, to talk about my favorite variety, which I simply call my Salsa Tomatoes--Last year my dad started tons of plants and gave me all of the ones he could not fit into his garden (which ended up being most of them--lucky for me, and that was the beginning of our garden expansion!!) One packet of seeds he used was called "cocktail" tomatoes, and those happened to be what I chose to use in my homemade salsa. Perfect choice! I think will make this our own family heirloom veggie starting now!!
Salsa Tomatoes, easy to remove seeds

This variety produces small to medium sized, round, flavorful tomatoes.  For 2 years now they have had very few blemishes, or other issues.  Beside that, the most important qualities for me are that these tomatoes have really firm, thick flesh that holds up great for canning salsa, and they are super easy work with.  The skins peel off of the firm flesh very easily and their seeds are withheld in 2 major cavities and can be removed quickly with a flick of a paring knife and a flip of the thumb.

Needless to say, for the last 3 weeks I have had a refrigerator full of tomatoes. Even when I get a bunch put up in a recipe, then there's a whole lot more to pick and bring inside from the garden!  I have been meaning to sit down and share some of my ideas/tips/mistakes/etc on processing all these tomatoes, but I have been spending all my time DOING that instead of WRITING about it...maybe between filing the next batches of jars I will write some more on that!  Talk to you again soon....

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