big Chef Bill Fuller, September 2019
This has easily been the best tomato season ever. The combination of the hot summer with temperatures that stayed elevated at night, a lack of the regular scourges of blights and rots, ample rainfall at appropriate intervals, and zero tomato worms (at least in Morningside) has led to an incredible crop of tomatoes. From the Green Zebras to the San Marzanos, all the tomatoes have been delicious. Nice acidity, great paste, and not a mealy one yet. I have eaten about a thousand great tomatoes this season from my yard as well as our great farmer partners like Who Cooks For You Farm, B.Wild.er Farm, and all the wonderful farmers with Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance.
And they are big. I have picked many 1-2# tomatoes from my home plants. I grab them when they are almost ripe to keep them from drooping and ripping the vines. They ripen on the counter within a day or two. The last month has had a steady supply of ripening tomatoes on my counters at home. As they accumulate and we can’t keep up with eating them, I put them in bags and save them in the freezer. When I get enough, I’ll make sauce and can it.
But, after two rounds of canning and over 70 quarts, I’ve had enough spending early mornings in a steaming kitchen. But there are still tomatoes coming, and they are still accumulating in bags in the freezer. The great thing is that frozen tomatoes are great to cook with. By quickly rinsing the frozen tomatoes under very hot water, the skins will slip right off. A further 15-20 minutes sitting on the counter will soften them up enough to dice. Then use them as you would fresh tomatoes in a sauce or stew.
Here is a pretty little dish that uses the frozen fresh tomatoes along with very seasonal halibut and the best olives on earth:
We have about three weeks left. Keep loving the tomatoes and the other summer produce! There is time enough for Pumpkin Spiced Everything!
Also: Amanda Mull wrote this excellent essay about the soothing effects our obsession with Tomato Season has upon our national Psyche.