They are beautiful globes, decorating the farmers’ market like ornaments come six months early. They are red, green, yellow, orange, even purple and dark brown. Some are striped, warped, twisted or just generally playful. No matter their particular quirks, they are delicious and will be in their prime starting this Saturday.
Starring names from Beefsteak to Brandywine, Plum to Purple Prince, these tomatoes bear no resemblance to their mealy-mouthed pale-faced supermarket cousins. The food demo-ists in the market are sure to be promoting simple techniques for a tomato salad and fresh tomato sauce this summer. But what to do when, like myself, you get so carried away with the variety, colors and personalities that you end up with a full fridge of nothing but tomatoes?
In lieu of eating so many you turn a soft tomato hue, try making a concentrated tomato paste to use in recipes the rest of the year. It’s real easy; the majority of the cooking time can be spent in your garden or on the sofa watching the Food Network.
First, grab as many tomatoes as you can manage to carry home from the market. (You’ve got about a 3-week window, starting now, for the best selection.) Classically, tomato paste is made from plum tomatoes, but I like a mix of heritage tomatoes because they are so much fun to work with (all those fairy tale names!)
Then follow the recipe below.
Local Tomato Paste
-- That’s it! Ain’t it lovely.
1) Fill a large pot about half way with water. Heat it to a rolling boil.
2) Add tomato, in batches if necessary. Cook until skin splits.
3) Remove tomatoes. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and stems. (Skins should peel right off with your hands.)
4) Cut open and remove seeds. (No need to be a stickler here; some seeds are fine.)
5) Puree tomatoes.
6) Add puree to large pot.
7) Simmer, stirring occasionally, until puree reduces to paste – about 4 to 5 hours depending on the amount of tomatoes and their relative juiciness.
8) Freeze spoonfuls in ice cube trays or muffin tins for easy use in future recipes, such as marinara sauce, lasagna, tomato soup or beef stew.
picture by Diana Lundin via Dreamstime