Attack of my evil tomatoes

Posted on September 13th, 2012

My evil and prolific tomato plants, poised to take over the planet

My house has been overrun by tomatoes. I swear to you, they are everywhere. They are in the fridge. They are on the counter. They are in the freezer. It’s like a scene from that TV show “Hoarders” only instead of newspapers and clothes stacked up everywhere, we have tomatoes. Frankly, it’s terrifying. And the worst part? I planted the stupid things. Also? I used to like tomatoes.

Our descent into tomato hell started last spring when we were in Los Gatos. I was having a wonderful time, tasting cheeses and wine and going to stores that sell all kinds of cooking supplies – which basically is stuff I never use but greatly enjoy looking at and wondering who the heck buys things like cheese slicers and paella pans. At one point we wandered into a store run by a woman who had a bunch of tomato plants.

And according to her, these were no ordinary tomatoes. These were heirloom. And exotic. And guaranteed to grow. So we bought four plants. Four. Four very tiny tomato plants. And we planted them. And one day they grew very big and had a couple flowers on them. And from those four tomato plants we are producing a tomato harvest so large we could feed the planet. And the tomatoes themselves are…odd. Take a peek:

This is one tomato. Yes, it looks like tomato porn. Shield your eyes.

More tomato porn. Or possibly an edible teapot.

I swear to you, I have gone out on sunny mornings and seen two tomatoes on the vine. And by afternoon, seventeen billion are hanging from branches, ready for harvest. And because I couldn’t convince Harry and Junior to stand on the street corner and give the tomatoes away to unsuspecting victims, I made a list of the things I should be doing with our tomatoes.

  1. Eat them. Yes, this sounds like the perfect solution, but let’s be real here. There are only so many tomatoes you can eat at every single meal before you start feeling like you are a giant, red ball of tomato. I mean, we’ve eaten them raw. We’ve eaten them in sauce. We’ve eaten them in sandwiches. We’ve eaten tomato soup. We’ve eaten tomato pie.  We have eaten tomatoes stuffed into every type of meal you can imagine. And we still have tomatoes in the fridge, on the counters and growing on the dang vines.
  2. Can them. Now this would be the perfect idea, except I don’t really cook all that well. And botulism is one of those diseases that I believe can kill you. So canning isn’t an option for us. Even on days when I’m really, really ticked off at Harry and/or Junior, I can’t imagine poisoning them. Well, OK, fine, some days I can IMAGINE it, but that doesn’t mean I’d do it.
  3. Freeze them. Oh, I’ve done this. I have cooked the tomatoes into a disgusting, slimy, red mush and put them in freezer bags and very gently stacked them in the freezer. And stacked them. And stacked them.  Until now when I cannot fit one more stack of tomatoes in the freezer and every time I open the stupid thing a group of tomatoes leaps out and attacks me.Let me just say right now that tomatoes get very hard when they are frozen. And I only have so many toes for them to attack. Also? Ice cream no longer fits in the freezer. This is a real tragedy in my house. I have to eat the entire carton of salted caramel gelato the minute I buy it because there is no place to store it. This is a travesty, people. One carton of salted caramel gelato a day means I don’t fit in my fat pants.

But today I came up with a new plan – no, I’m not going to stand in the middle of Santa Teresa (our main “drag”) and pelt cars with tomatoes – although it is mighty tempting to to this to cars driven by teenagers. Nope, I’m going to bag them and give them away. So don’t say I didn’t warn you that seventeen billion tomatoes may be headed to your doorstep. Hope you have room in your freezer.

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10 Responses to “Attack of my evil tomatoes”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    What do you do with the tomatoes when you freeze them? My husband has tomato plants and I’d like to find out something to do with them – we dont own a canner yet so freezing would be good – didnt know you could do it – what do you do? Thanks much!

  2. Laurie Says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    I chop the tomatoes into kinda big chunks (mine are very juicy). Then I pop them into a pot and bring to a boil. When they start to get hot, they need to be smashed. I use a potato masher. I don’t mash them into submission, I leave them a bit chunky so they are sort of like diced tomatoes. Once they boil, I simmer them for a bit – maybe 10 minutes or so. Then I have this food saver thing from Costco, I put them in the freezer bags, seal them and lay them flat in the freezer (I have a very small freezer, so every bit of space counts). Oh, I measure the freezer bags into 15 ounce portions, because that is the same as a can of diced tomatoes.

    I use them all year in place of diced tomatoes and even tomato sauce (to make sauce I puree them in the blender or with a blender stick doo hickey after thawing).

    I’m terrified of canning. I can poison people just by baking a pie, so freezing is the only thing I do :) Thanks for reading! Hope this helps.

  3. Jennifer Says:

    Thank you! This is a great help! My husband is supposed to be getting me a new food saver for my b-day this week since I used my last one until it died. I will be sure to do this with our tomatos! I use a lot of diced tomatoes and this is a wonderful idea!

  4. Monica Says:

    oh. my. gawd. hysterical. i love the veggie porn. who knew those tomatos were such whores? okay, so it’s so lame to link yourself, but if you haven’t already – you simply must try this tomato pie that i got from another blog (which is linked). it is HEAVEN.

  5. Gina Says:

    Make salsa. VERY EASY!! I teach canning/perserving classes. let me know if you need more receipes or tips for tomato storeage.
    1- go buy salsa canning mix- (seasoning pouch all ready premixed with spices)
    2- get the other veggies- onion, peppers.. (frozen can also be used)
    3- blanch the tomatoes.(bring water to boil- move to side- add in tomatoes let cool and peel the skin )
    4- chop veggies and tomatoes – Food processor on dice/ low setting is great for this
    5- follow instructions on the salsa mix (add the water and simmer mix and salsa for __ minutes)
    6- Two ways to store- Either use good air tight containers to freeze or Canning.
    Canning method best to use- boil water method. You do not need a pressure cooker/canner but it helps.
    Bring water to rolling boil. Meanwhile- fill jars with hot salsa , leaving 1 inch space(pretty much fill to the neck of the jar)
    add the lids (metal disks) and the rings ( open lid thingy)
    place in rolling boil water level should be 1 inch above jars
    boil with lid on pot or pressure cooker 45 minutes
    (if using stock pot or pasta pot- make sure the pot lid is vented)
    remove jars- place on flat protected surface (kitchen towels work well enough)
    let cool for 24 hrs before storing away. Will last 1-2 years as long as seals do not pop. As they cool enough to handle- you can move to other open space (other counter or table) to finish cooling.

  6. Laurie Says:

    @Gina, I like the salsa idea, but I’m still too scared to can. OOOOHHH, I will freeze it though.

    @Monica, you can always link here. I’m heading over there now to check out the tomato pie. I love tomato pie.

  7. Gina Says:

    since you are boiling the ingredidents and blanching the tomatoes first- very very slim chance of making anyone sick. Rubber made has some great containers for freezing, so does Ball ( as in Ball jars). And others. Use your favorite brand- that you trust and go for it. Canning is really a lot easier than most people realize. My biggest issue is the steam- I always get a steam burn on my finger. But use the over the range vent and it helps a lot. There are great how to videos on line for both methods. If you are adding beans to salsa and are freezing- use dry beans- not canned.They will help absorb the extra liquid.

  8. Laurie Says:

    @Gina, I’m still freezing. Seriously, cooking is dangerous for me. You said on Facebook I could freeze other tomato stuff, but I the sauce already – but the tomato soup base would be good.

  9. Laurie Says:

    Omigod. My iPad hates me. That should read I do make the sauce already. Sheesh.

  10. Gina Says:

    4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
    1 slice onion
    4 whole cloves
    2 cups chicken broth- beef can be used also. decrease salt, and use low or no sodium broths for beef. Turkey base works .
    2 tablespoons butter- optional
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour – corn starch can be substitited. watch for clumps
    1 teaspoon salt – I orefer sea salt
    2 teaspoons white sugar, or to taste

    1.In a stockpot, over medium heat, combine the tomatoes, onion, cloves and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, and gently boil for about 20 minutes to blend all of the flavors. Remove from heat and run the mixture through a food mill into a large bowl, or pan. Discard any stuff left over in the food mill.

    2. In the now empty stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, cooking until the roux is a medium brown. Gradually whisk in a bit of the tomato mixture, so that no lumps form, then stir in the rest. Season with sugar and salt, and adjust to taste.
    ** change up spices for more of a Italian, Mexican, or plain base. Or just make the base as listed, then as you use it- kick of the spices. Great plain also. Sea Salt gives a better flavor.
    CHICKEN BROTH / STOCK FROM SCRATCH ( works for turkey also)

    1 or 2 lb roasting chicken ( whole- or use leg quarters
    large pot or crock pot
    5 cups water ( enought to cover carcass in pot)
    celery seed/salt
    garlic (fresh is best but powder works)
    oregano(if desired)
    bay leaf (if desired but I love a touch in it)
    onion ( fresh chopped to taste or onion powder is fine or frozen)
    carrots ( diced)
    1. In large pot or crockpot bring carcass and spices to taste to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours ( or longer up to 5 on very low simmer)adding water as needed to keep chicken covered
    2. Drain but retain jucies
    3. debone the chicken by pulling off meat. Should be pretty easy at this point. Use a Collindar helps catch the fine bones
    4. Put jucices into food processor, and liquidfy. Add more water if needed
    5. Take a bit of the meat add to processor mix to taste
    6. Remaining chicken- serve with bbq sauce , add cream of chicken or mushroom soup and make creamed chic. sandwiches , add mexican spices and make into enchilladas.

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