Yes I Can

Finally… the bombardment of tomatoes begins.

The grape tomatoes (Ildi) have been insane this year- we can barely keep up.   Almost every day I go out there with my apron with the front pocket, and every time, I come back with a belly full of tomatoes.  Luckily, they are so sweet, its just like grabbing a handful of candy.  I have to say, I think we’ll grow a few less of these next year- not that I don’t like them, its just, they are best fresh and I like to save some of the tomato-ey goodness by canning.  My husband was in charge of labeling the little seedlings this past spring, and I can’t say he’ll be taking on that job again next year!  We basically lost track of what was what!

Ildi and Chocolate Cherry

The chocolate cherry tomatoes are beautiful too, but I gotta say, I find the skins a little tough.  I canned a small batch of them and removed the skins.  They look really pretty in the jars.

Anyways, last week, enough of the larger, red tomatoes were ripe that it was time for some canning.  As you may know, the first week of September was HOT in Lethbridge (lovely!) and it was too hot to turn the oven inside the house.  What I usually like to do is halve the tomatoes, sprinkle them with herbs, garlic, s&p, olive oil and balsamic, and roast them in the oven, puree them, and can them.  On this particular day, I had full reign of the house; my hubby was gone and I thought, “BBQ!”  So I prepared the tomatoes (roma and duchess) as above and roasted them on the barbecue!  It was actually a lot of fun and waaay faster than the oven.  Each batch of tomatoes on the grill only took about 5 minutes.  I have a cast iron grill on my bbq- its quite thick so things don’t fall through- I am not sure how this would work with the stainless steel type.

Then I canned everything and ended up with two different types of sauce; one more of a puree as I didn’t strain out the extra juice, and one a true sauce with the juice strained out and thickened longer on the stove.  Not bad!  They definitely have some bbq essence!

I also stumbled upon this excellent post on how to preserve 100 + lbs of tomatoes with almost no work.  I LOVE #2 tomato sauce for busy people.  A no frills approach- seeds, skins, keep all that tomatoey goodness!  (except if you have the really tough skins like those chocolate cherry tomatoes!)

Round 2 of tomato sauce is coming soon- as soon as the roma’s turn red (man.. everything is so late this year!)


Ildi Abundance

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like these Ildi tomatoes.  This is a new variety for us that we started from seed that we ordered from Vesey’s.  They have required some major pruning and stand over 4 feet tall.  I can’t wait to taste the ripe yellow grape tomatoes very soon!

Starting Seeds

baby tomatoes

Aside from eating lots of vegetables, I also like to grow a lot too.  We have been starting our own tomato seeds for the past few years.  Last year we had such a great harvest and I was able to can about 25 jars of tomato sauce and salsa.  We just ran out about a month ago- I can’t wait to have more!   There really is nothing like a home grown tomato.

Rather than go with the mass produced “beefsteak” type tomatoes (and honestly, what kind of vegetarian would I be if I grew beefsteak!) we ordered some uncommon varieties from a seed catalogue this year:

Ildi: “Incredible masses of small Grape Tomatoes. This attractive yellow tomato has to be seen to be believed, up to 50tomatoes in a single cluster. Visitors to our trials were amazed with the yield of Ildi. Salad sized ½ oz tomatoes are borne in clusters on a vigourous Indeterminate vine which grows about 4-5 feet tall.”
chocolate cherry
Chocolate Cherry: A really unique Heirloom Tomato, with incredible flavour and colour. Chocolate Cherry produces very deep purple Cherry Tomatoes on a large Indeterminate plant. Very sweet with exceptional tomato flavour.

Duchess: Very early and productive Hybrid. Vigourous, dwarf plants produce 6 oz. fruit in clusters of 4-5. High quality, dark red tomatoes are smooth, firm and blemish free, with excellent vine storage. Good tolerance to cracking, viruses, late blight and powdery mildew. Suitable for processing and fresh market.
Roma: An excellent paste-type Open Pollinated Tomato. Popular for canning or for making your own tomato sauce, juice, soups or for dehydrating. Plants bear dozens of plum shaped fruit which ripen to a bright red with meaty interiors and very few seeds. Determinate growing habit does not require staking.

We started ours about 2-3 weeks ago.  We just recently transplanted them from their original biodegradable seed pots into some larger pots.

With all this snow lately, its been really nice to have somewhat of an indoor garden, providing some hope that spring & summer is just around the corner.  We are hoping to plant them outside sometime in late May.