Whenever I am asked about my plans for dealing with a glut of produce from my allotment, my initial response is usually, “Chance would be a fine thing!”
I’m still on the lower slopes of allotmenteering, constantly marvelling at the (seemingly) effortless heights achieved by my neighbours.
Storm Ellen did her best to scupper my chances of a substantial tomato haul, but thanks to a tendency I have to cram things close together in the ground – I can’t get over how much space I have! – the plants and their stakes more or less held each other up. In spite of many hours agonising over the seed catalogues and subsequent cossetting of seedlings, I have to report that the finest and most prolific tomato crop on my patch this year comes from the gift of a neighbour. In the early days of lockdown she realised that she wouldn’t be able to get any seedlings from garden centres in time so she simply dried the seeds from some piccolino tomatoes she had bought at the supermarket and planted them.
Amazing results! She shared out dozens of seedings with nearby allotments, and now I am in the happy position of trying to decide what I should do to preserve this abundant harvest.
Last year, caught out with no plan for the cherry tomatoes on the eve of a holiday, I turned to Google for help. A combination of the words, “tomato”, “glut”, “preserve” and “easy” produced a range of solutions (literally) involving vodka.
All I had to do was pierce the tomatoes, pop them into a sterilised glass jar, add the celery salt and chillies that I didn’t have (but that doesn’t seem to have been a problem), cover with vodka and store the jar in the fridge. I was assured that the residual vodka would be the perfect base for a Bloody Mary, and that the tomatoes would form an impressive element of any tray of canapés. Do they ever get that far? Do they heck! With admirable restraint, I have enjoyed the odd tomato or two straight from the jar over many months.
As holidays are more or less out of the question in 2020, I will have some more time to think about what to do with my expected glut of tomatoes and be on hand at the right time to deal with them. I wondered what suggestions CABAHS members might have: what is your favourite way to preserve tomatoes?
Perhaps we can start a separate section, sharing ideas for making the most of our produce.