Category Archives: tomatoes


Home made oven dried tomatoes or tomato Jerky

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I’ve made them into sauce, I’ve done chutney, I’ve frozen them, so now I’ve dried them for ‘homemade sundried, well oven dried tomatoes’.

I’m known locally as the tomato lady, as the old folk see me totter up the road with my basket giving them away. I’ve had so many tomatoes this year it’s crazy, I cannot give them away fast enough, before more ripen.

I was running out of ideas, when a flash of inspiration hit me. I can dry them nice and slowly then pop them into a couple of jars filled with olive oil.

So that’s what I did.

Washed and sliced in half lightly sprinkled with sea salt and chilli flakes and put on a low oven, all day! Yes all day!

Just before it was time for my daughter to goto bed she helped me pick the best ones which we put into jars then filled up with olive oil.

Nice and simple and they tasted good just dried we called the dry ones ‘tomato jerky’. They were so sweet and chewy! They didn’t make a storage jar and we stuffed them into our mouths lol, and anyway like I said they were ‘less than perfect’… Honest!

If your thinking of giving this a bash, get loads of tomatoes as they dry flat. I did two baking trays full and even though we did eat quite a few, you can ram loads into a jar. And keep the oven warm but not too hot or they may burn.


Sweet & Spicy Tomato Chutney

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The tomato jungle is beginning to take over the Poly tunnel. So it’s time to take action and get making chutney.

I’m not an expert at cooking but I will have a go and wow it’s good! It’s not as spicy hot as I wanted but at least my 6 year old daughter will eat it. To be honest she will eat spicy food but I didn’t want to go crazy. You may want to add extra chilli sauce to give it an extra kick, or even better actual chilli’s.

What I used

A collider of Tomatoes halved or quartered depending on size
2 large onions roughly chopped
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 teaspoons of whole grain mustard
2 table spoons of smoky Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons of hot chilli sauce.
200ml of white balsamic vinegar

And you lob it all in a big pan, bring to the boil while the sugar dissolves then put it onto a gentle rolling boil to reduce, about 45 minutes.

Then put it onto clean jars, and store in a cool cupboard or the fridge.


Home made pasta sauce

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I had a bowl of tomatoes from the allotment so I thought I would whip up a pasta sauce for a quick and easy dinner next week. Plus I have a few onions which had lost their long leaves so would be hard to plait together, so time to get busy.

What a joy, I love making my own tomato sauce, it tastes so fresh and smells like Italy in a jar. Sweet over ripe tomatoes and home grown basil, bay leaves and wonderful onions and garlic… Bliss! and apart from some salt and pepper thats all thats in it.

The crazy thing is the jar is from a shop bought tomato sauce, I think cost me £2. Which was ok I suppose, I cannot help but think you only really pay for the jar and the food miles on it. In my sauce there are no colours or preservatives, no added sugar, no chemicals you cannot pronounce and probably quadruple the amount of actual tomatoes and it has only travelled 10 meters from where it was organically grown.

Nothing more comforting than a bowl of pasta with an actual real honest tomato sauce.


A big bowl of tomatoes
A hand full of fresh basil
4 small to medium onions chopped roughly
2 cloves of garlic chopped
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to your taste

Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute to help remove skins. Throw the skinless tomatoes in a pan to reduce down, gently fry onions until they are golden and see through. Add garlic towards the end so it doesn’t go bitter.

Add onions to tomato pan with two bay leaves and gently simmer for 20 minutes add basil and either serve or fill a jar and when cooled put into the fridge. I find it will last for a week, mainly because I want to eat it, or when it’s completely cool you could pour into a freezer bag for freezing.

I don’t go in for complicated cooking keep it easy that’s what I say!


Quick tomato dressing

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Back to work today, it’s not too bad as I do love my job. I’m blessed to work with the best people in the world and have a fun time. However, I forgot just how hard the 4am alarm call is.

So I was shattered this afternoon, quick easy dinner tonight I thought.

So Sirloin steak with steamed new potatoes and French and Runner beans in a tomato dressing.

6 large tomatoes cut up in a pan
Salt and pepper
Italian herbs
Teaspoon of sugar
One clove of garlic

Boil it up let it reduce a bit, then add your beans which have been lightly boiled. Ta dar! I would of fried some little onions and added those too, but like I said easy dinner tonight!

It’s so handy having all this on hand to eat! Got to love having an allotment!


I got those tomatoes to ripen

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Here are my Tigerella tomatoes, aren’t they beautiful? I think they look like they have been dappled with gold leaf.

They a UK heritage tomato which have been around since the 1950’s. They aren’t the American Mr Stripy beefsteak ones, these are about the size of a snooker ball. I have read many people who plant them out of the UK struggle with them, just shows how these heritage seeds are perfectly suited to the climate they were bred for.

So a week or so ago I was wondering if I should do an experiment with bananas to get my tomatoes to ripen. Click here

I decided against using a paraffin heater and wondered about using bananas, then it hit me, whilst I was pruning the bottom leaves from my tomato plants… Why not use the leaves?

As you know I make my own greenfly spray from tomato leaf tea. I usually make small amounts and leave it in a sealed container as it gets a bit smelly. That’s when it dawned on me! The whiffy smell is actually what I need to get things moving.

So as I was going away for the week the smell wouldn’t bother me I filled a bucket 90% tomato leaf 10% water and off I went.

I got home yesterday and look what I have found! It worked! 30% them have already ripened and the rest are on their way. I asked the neighbours to see what the weather has been like, it hasn’t been terribly sunny or very hot so that hasn’t kick started them to ripen. So maybe it was the tea bucket?

Guess who will be making tomato salsa later?


Getting impatient with my tomatoes

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So my poly tunnel is a tomato forest at the moment. The plants are covered and I really mean covered in fruit. All beautiful, all green.

In the UK we had our summer 3 weeks of sunshine and that was that gone in a flash, and it’s back to grey clouds and drizzle. My nan used to call it “the fine rain that’s wets yah” So will my fruits ever ripen?

I am thinking about an experiment. We all know about bananas ripening fruit. So what happens if you buy a load of cheap bananas and leave them in your greenhouse/ poly tunnel?

Plants/fruit can smell we know this, well I say they can smell they can receive scent, one of which is ethylene, this causes fruit to ripen. That’s why paraffin heaters are used in vast warehouses of lemons to speed up the ripening process, it’s also given off by a ripe banana too. The old paper bag and a banana trick has been used for donkeys years.

I prefer the banana approach over a paraffin heater, it seems a little less stinky. I could bore you with how a plant smells and how they communicate to each other by scent and smell – maybe one day, it’s terribly fascinating I assure you!

I’m not entirely sure how many bananas I will need, and this of course, will cause my tomato plants to enter the final stages of their little lives. The smell of ethylene is basically the smell of Autumn.

So do I try it? Maybe I am being impatient. I just cannot wait to make a massive tomato buttie on thick white bread with lashings of olive oil to dip into. What do you think?