Tomatoes in Winter

 

Polka Dot Hen Produce fresh produce Wiarton Farmers' Market
Fresh tomatoes from Polka Dot Hen Produce destined for the Wiarton Farmers’ Market

Looking at this picture of our fresh tomatoes almost hurts at this time of year.

It is February, and outside the wind is whipping the trees mercilessly. The second thaw of the winter has reduced the snow pack, but it’s going to be a long time until these beauties are on my plate again.

I’m doing what I can to set the stage for their return.

Almost with mouth watering, I’m planning this year’s tomato selections.  The seed catalogues are arrayed around me on the desk as I create my short list.

Deciding for or against a variety is based on several observations over the season. Then, the task every autumn is to review how each tomato variety performed overall. This is crucial,  because right now, there needs to be a balance between the dreams espoused by those glossy seed catalogues and reality.

Back to my plate, today.

There is a little good news stored in the freezer. While the tomato production this autumn was outpacing market sales and our own consumption, I took the time to put up some of the goodness for a time such as this.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

These take time to make, but don’t need to be tended constantly. The recipe is pretty loose; once you make a batch, you’ll get the hang of it.

Start by slicing your tomatoes and placing them on a parchment-lined baking tray, sliced side up.

sliced tomatoes Polka Dot Hen Produce
Sliced tomatoes ready for roasting on parchment-lined baking trays

Now you have a choice to make. Do you want simple roasted tomatoes or do you want to fancy them up?

sliced tomatoes Polka Dot Hen Produce
Ready to roast. Now for a drizzle of olive oil.

For simple, delicious goodness, simply drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil. For fancier fare, drizzle the tomatoes not only with olive oil, but also with balsamic vinegar.  Pinches of salt and pepper, or thinly sliced garlic are tasty additions.

Roast at 350F until the tomatoes start to shrivel. Now lower the temp in the oven and continue to cook them. The timing depends on the size of your tomatoes and how thickly they are cut.  Larger tomatoes can take a couple of hours. These cherry and saladette tomatoes took about forty-five minutes.

Keep the heat on until they are shrivelled, sweet and smoky. I let them cool in the oven once it is turned off to get a more sun-dried tomato texture.

Roasted tomatoes Polka Dot Hen Produce
The finished product

These tomatoes are ready to eat right away. In fact, they are hard to stop eating.

But the really good news for us in February, is that slow roasted tomatoes  can also be frozen.  Thaw and eat as is, or puree into a delicious sauce.

I suppose this technique could be tried on those hard softballs they try to pass off as “tomatoes” in the grocery store. As for me, I’ll head to the freezer and bring out another package of summer.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

Starting again

snowy lane and trees Bruce Peninsula Polka Dot Hen Produce
Snow blankets the farm and forest as we contemplate the coming season.

Out the window is a sea of white. The chickadees and nuthatches take turns grabbing sunflower seeds from the feeder. Every once in a while the blue jays and woodpeckers flap in and push everyone aside. Then they leave, or are more often startled off by the dog, and the small birds return. Meanwhile, I sit here and watch it all unfold.

It’s my time of year for quiet and retrospection. A time to look over the past year’s experiences and notes, and to think about what went well. Also it’s the time to look at what could be improved upon this coming season. Which is a nice way of saying, “What just plain failed, stank or drove me nuts last summer?” But with a little more distance and perspective. Continue reading “Starting again”

Seasonal Eating – Spring

Close-up of pear tree blossoms
Pear tree blossoms are a welcome sign that spring is has arrived and lots of delicious seasonal flavours await.

 

I used our last homegrown carrots last weekend. They were purple carrots–a variety called Starburst–that I dug out of the garden in January. I put them into a curry that got slammed into the oven so I could get back to transplanting Swiss chard. Hours later, those carrots were still pretty tasty, as was the curry.

Starburst carrots dug in winter from the garden
Carrots dug from the garden January 22, 2017. Deliciously sweet!

 

Seasonal eating has been on trend for a while now. It’s something we are encouraged to explore to benefit our health, and the health of the planet. Growing most of our own vegetables here means we’ve really embraced seasonal eating. Maybe we are embracing it just a little too much, according to certain family members.

Continue reading “Seasonal Eating – Spring”