Homegrown / Homemade: Tomatoes

comments (3) August 20th, 2010

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DanielleGardenGirl Danielle Sherry, contributor
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Video Length: 2:54
Produced by: Danielle Sherry, Sarah Breckenridge, and Robyn Doyon-Aitken. Videography by Gary Junken. Edited by Cari Delahanty

Welcome to Homegrown/Homemade, a video series from our sister sites FineGardening.com and FineCooking.com. We'll be following a gardener (Danielle Sherry) and a cook (Sarah Breckenridge) as they plant, maintain, harvest, store, and prepare food crops. Tomatoes are America's favorite garden crop, so naturally, they are planting lots of varieties.

Episode 1: How to Plant Tomatoes
What gardener doesn't grow tomatoes? Watch as a cook and a gardener plant a raised bed with tomato seedlings and set up stakes and trellises to support the growing plants.

Episode 2: How to Prune Tomato Plants
The weather has been warm, and the tomato patch has turned into a jungle, so much so that the bed is getting crowded. Pruning will make it manageable again, and also allow sun to reach the ripening fruit. The first order of business is trimming back any low-lying branches that touch the ground. followed by pinching out small suckers that appear below the first flower cluster. (A sucker is a shoot that angles out between the stem and the horizontal branches.) Larger suckers can be controlled by Missouri pruning, which involves snipping off the top of the sucker. Missouri pruning must be repeated from time to time.

As you prune, keep an eye out for dead, damaged and diseased leaves. These should be removed as well.

Mostly, it's the indeterminate tomato plants that require pruning. Determinate plants need little pruning.

Episode 3: How to Train Tomato Plants
This year, the weather has been hot and dry, and Sarah's tomato patch is a jumble of thriving plants. A combination of selective pruning and tying will restore order to the patch. Panty hose makes good tie material because it stretches. A figure-eight loop wrapped loosely around the stake and tied in a knot can be used to support stems as well as branches with fruit. (You can use strips of other fabric as well.) If you see brown spots forming on the fruit, they might be blossom end rot, a sign of inconsistent watering.

Episode 4: How to Harvest Tomatoes
It isn't hard to harvest tomatoes, but the tricky part is determining when they are at peak ripeness. Danielle shows Sarah three things to check for: color, smell, and "squishability." Red, yellow, and orange tomatoes should be bright red, yellow, and orange, respectively; pink-fruited varieties should be a dusty rose color. Green varieties such as Green Zebra should be mostly green, with just a little yellow. Black tomatoes such as Black Krim should have a dusky purple color. Next, check aroma. The tomato should smell like a ripe tomato. As for squishability, pressing a ripe fruit with your finger should make an indententation that springs back. If the fruit is hard, let it ripen a while longer. If the indentation stays, the fruit is overripe. 

As fruit ripens, the bottom leaves of the plants may turn yellow and brown. That's normal; no need to worry.

Episode 5: How to Preserve Tomatoes: Fresh Tomato Purée
Traditionally, canning tomato sauce is a lengthy affair, but you can speed matters considerably by making and canning a fresh tomato puree, which later on can be transformed into sauce, soup, or even ketchup. Wash, core, and chop 8 pounds of paste tomatoes cook them over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Next, puree them using a tomato press or a food mill; this removes the seed and the skins. Now boil some water and get your canning equipment ready: you'll need 4 clean pint Mason jars and lids. Put the lids into the boiling water to soften the rubber flanges. Meanwhile, take the tomato puree and bring to a boil.

When all is ready put 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid into the bottom of each jar to prevent botulism and fill with purée, leaving 1 inch of head space. Stir with a rod to remove any air bubbles, wipe the rims, apply the flat lids and then the top bands that hold the lids in place. As the liquid cools, the lids will form a seal. Then put the jars into a rack, and process in boiling water for 40 minutes. Let them cool in the pot for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack or towel and let cool for at least 8 hours. Properly sealed jars of tomato purée will keep up to a year in the pantry.

Recipe: Heirloom Tomato Napoleon with Parmesan Crisps
Homegrown tomatoes are a treat however you serve them, but for an impressive company-worthy dish, try a tomato napoleon, It's not a pastry, but a sandwich that alternates layers of slided tomatoes with homemade Parmesan cheese crisps, all served on a bed of greens.

Get the recipe on FineCooking.com... 

 Homegrown/Homemade Video Series More videos from this series...




posted in: tomatoes, Homegrown

Comments (3)

TOMATOCRADLE writes: I watched your video on planting tomatoes & learned a few things.I did watch how you put up your stakes & trellises,it seemed like it took alot of time.I would like it if you took some time to check out my website www.tomatocradles.com to look at my patented plant support that is so much faster,easier, & reuseable than stakes.Thanks for your time,would like to hear from you,Tim Lien,T.C.Tomato Cradles.
Posted: 7:04 pm on May 14th
popsgar writes: You have a lot of information. I can see you but I can't hear you. Is this a problem with my computer ?
Posted: 1:18 pm on March 30th
AnneDarling writes: Why on earth don't you have an experienced (ie, older) woman demonstrating your canning techniques?? This makes a mockery of canning when the demonstrator clearly has not done this before. Her lids go on with far more than 1" headspace, there are no air bubbles with liquid puree, etc., etc. It's kind of insulting and not really a good representation of the 'expertise' that most viewers want via a website of this stature. Feature someone in your videos who has actually mastered the art of canning in her own kitchen, please.
Posted: 2:28 pm on September 15th
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