Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sungold Sludge

I went a little tomato crazy this weekend.  I’ve been very enthralled with the whole canning food –pioneer life trend that’s been happening recently.  This is not to say that I am any good at it.  Currently, I have a few bags of frozen fruits, multiple jars of jam and a garden I need to deal with, but that does not mean I have “put up” enough for Joe and I to subsist on for the winter.  Really I just like the idea of being useful and home-makey.  So I got it into my head that I would try canning tomatoes. 
 Sure I could do something useful like make tomato sauce, or can whole tomatoes to use later in soups and sauces.  But no.  I was distracted by a recipe in Bon Appetít for homemade ketchup.  ‘Yes!’ I thought, ‘I can make my own ketchup, it will be very useful and delicious.’

So I immediately e-mailed a local farm and placed my order for a crate of 2nd rate tomatoes at a discounted price.  A measly $25 for a crate I would pick up at the farmer’s market on Thursday.  Perfect.

When I got to the farm stand I was armed with 2 cloth bags to transport the tomatoes home.  I smilingly approached the man at the stand and told him of my order.  He said oh yes, we have seconds for you.  You can help yourself. 
I asked him how much was a crate of tomatoes (meaning how many tomatoes would I be getting), he told me a crate of tomatoes.  I nodded my ascent as if I got the joke and wasn’t at all trying to ask an actual question.

I was handed an empty crate which now looking back was the size of a pallet (well, maybe not quite that big, but it was rather large) and told to fill it up with whatever I wanted.  I started grabbing handfuls of different colored tomatoes and placing them into the black plastic crate.  When I got about halfway full, my heart started racing.  ‘Oh gosh, what am I doing, the recipe only calls for 5 pounds of tomatoes.’  So I interrupted the man again and asked how many pounds he thought a full crate was.  Oh about 35 pounds, he calmly replied looking at my crate.  I told him I thought I was ok with just a half full crate and I would still pay full price.  He told me no.  I was going to need to fill it up more.  I got a few chuckles and stares from other patrons at the stand noticing my panic and red flushed faced as I continued to plop tomatoes into the crate. 
I tried pushing them around to make it seem like more, the opposite of what children do to food they don’t want at dinner. 

I re-approached the man and told him the crate was full, I was ready to pay.  He, thinking he was being helpful, looked up at the sky and nonchalantly added 10 more tomatoes to my crate.  The one time the baker’s dozen elicits panic.  We then poured the tomatoes into my two bags, and I swear that when I picked them up it was closer to 50 pounds.  I’ve been lifting weights, so I’m pretty sure they weighed more than 35 pounds.

After lugging my 60 pounds of tomatoes home, I moved them into a wide shallow box, as the weight of all of them piled on top of one another was beginning to crush some of them.  Then I tried to push to box over to the side of my kitchen but apparently I am unable to push 75 pounds of tomatoes with one foot. 
When Joe came home and asked how my day was and what I had gotten at the farmer’s market, my reply was ‘Ok, don’t get mad at me, but…’ and thankfully he knows what that means – I have gone overboard on something.  I showed him the box. 

He agreed that it was over 35 pounds.
So to wrap this story up; yes I did make ketchup, no I did not use all of the tomatoes in that batch, and when you quadruple a recipe you also have to quadruple the time.  The ketchup turned out alright, not really ketchup as we know it (so I’m calling it catsup – because who really knows what catsup is) and it’s a bit spicy.   Too spicy for Joe, so now I have 12 pints of catsup that I ‘put up’ this weekend in case this winter we have to douse everything with homemade ketchup.  More likely this will become a Christmas present to at least 11 people. 
With the remaining 10 pounds of tomatoes, I made a vat of tomato sauce and froze it on Sunday.  But what I am going to share with you today is not a recipe for tomato sauce or ketchup catsup. I will share something far more manageable in the tomato realm.  Although I love this so much that next year I may only grow Sungold tomatoes and make this all summer long. So that when Joe asks me what’s in the garden I’ll have to say “Ok, don’t get mad at me, but…”

Bess’ Sungold Sludge
Sungold tomatoes are the small orange tomatoes.  They are as sweet as candy and just as pretty in my mind. My friend Bess, makes this delightful treat in the summer when her crop of Sungolds are ready.  I always secretly hope she will have some each time I see her.
1 pint of Sungold tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tb olive oil
Salt to taste

For assembly:
Fresh basil leaves, sliced
Goat cheese (or cream cheese)
Toasted French bread slices

 Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat, add garlic and sauté for about a minute.  Slice some tomatoes in half and add to skillet.  Add the other tomatoes and stir.  Adjust the heat as necessary so the garlic doesn’t burn.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the skins of all the tomatoes have burst.  If a tomato doesn’t split open, gently press on it with a spatula or poke it with a knife, but be careful of any juices spitting out.

Once the tomatoes have split, lower the heat a bit and continue to cook another 7 minutes or so until the juices are thick and syrupy.  Add salt to taste.

To serve, spread goat cheese on toasted bread, spoon the sludge over top and sprinkle with fresh basil.

1 comment:

  1. great post :-). I think you handled the tomato trauma very well...funny how you weren't going to get away with not taking all your tomatoes. I assume that was Snakeroot? want to make a gazillion jars of hot pepper jelly with me sometime soon?


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