a glut of tomatoes

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are ripening and we’re fast approaching a glut of tomatoes that threatens to overtake the mountain of beans picked from the garden. Not that I’m complaining about having tomatoes. To eat a tomato warm from the sun is one of life’s simple pleasures. Give me a table in the sunshine with a plate of tomato, mozzarella and basil, drizzled with oil and accompanied by a piece of foccacia to mop up the juices and I’m happy.

My favourite sandwich is generously buttered white bread with sliced tomatoes, salt and pepper, which is then squashed and left somewhere warm for a while so that the tomato juice runs into the bread. An effort, I realise, to conjure up those long lost childhood days before we had ice packs, when a packed lunch would be crammed in the bottom of a bag as we went off all day to explore on our bikes.

tomato, garlic and basil bread
tomato, garlic and basil bread

In the greenhouse, it seems to take an age for the tomatoes to ripen fully and the first tomatoes of the season are eaten sparingly, perhaps in a sandwich or popped into my mouth as I stand in the greenhouse. Then as the pyramid of tomatoes picked each day threatens to avalanche, rations increase. We eat tomato soup with tomato & garlic bread, spaghetti with tomatoes, potatoes baked with tomatoes, cold tomato salads, warm roast tomato salads, tomatoes for lunch, tomatoes for supper and then before the family rebel, I pick a big basketful that I bag up and throw in the freezer (just as they are – no need to do anything to them) for the winter.

Here are my six favourite ways to deal with a glut of tomatoes:

lino printed labels

1 Tomato & Onion Sauce
It’s handy to have some bags of this sauce in the freezer so I can grab one to make a quick sauce with meat or use as a base for soup or casserole. I find 400g a useful size.

Chop tomatoes and boil in a large pan until they’re reduced by about a quarter and then put through a food mill to remove the pips and skins. Or use oven dried tomatoes for a more intense flavour. Sometimes I bottle passata but although it’s immensely satisfying to line up the jars on the shelf, I’m not a confident bottler and worry that I may poison everybody, so usually end up freezing it instead.

oven dried tomatoes

Oven dried tomatoes
I put small bags of these oven dried tomatoes in the freezer to add to casseroles or to stir into pasta. A bowlful of spaghetti, topped with some of these concentrated tomatoes, grated cheese and a fried egg makes a quick dish.

4 Tomato ketchup
I make tomato ketchup using the recipe from Food for Keeps by Pamela Westland. My children mock me. Who, they ask, would ever bother to make tomato ketchup? They tell me it doesn’t taste as good as Heinz. I tell them it tastes different. They agree. And not so good. I only make tomato ketchup when we have a monumental glut of tomatoes.

sweet tomato chutney

5 Sweet Tomato Chutney
I used to make pots and pots of chutney but have scaled back, to make just a few jars of different kinds. This is one of my favourites and we use it to liven up a cheese sandwich or cheese on toast. This is my favourite Sweet Tomato Chutney recipe.

6 Green tomato mincemeat
This tastes much better than it sounds. I use the last of the tomatoes, that I know will never ripen and make this mincemeat to use in mince pies and also a mincemeat tart with a coconut topping. Honestly, you wouldn’t know that it was made with green tomatoes.

green tomato mincemeat recipe

Do you have a glut of tomatoes? Share your ideas for using them. Please.

Click to find the recipes for:

hand printed preserve labels

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26 thoughts on “a glut of tomatoes

  1. Tomatoes are amazing aren’t they Anne. We are right at the start of our tomato season…I am currently sowing seed as well as planting out some seedlings. Your bread looks delicious too, is that a sourdough or yeasted? Your sweet tomato chutney sounds like a great recipe, something for me to save for the summer glut!

  2. I have never been able to grow tomatoes successfully. But those recipes sound delicious, so I might give it a try again next year.

  3. I think this is the first year that I won’t have a glut of tomatoes but each one that is picked is so enjoyed. I’ll try your green tomato mincemeat recipe as I know all my tomatoes won’t be ripe by the end of September when frosts are a probability.

  4. Oh Anne, I understand your dilemma. I still shudder to think of how many tomatoes I had last summer. We still have about 50 jars of preserved tomatoes, along with the bottles of tomato sauce and jars of salsa and chutney. I have used all the frozen roasted tomatoes though …. they came in very handy. This year I am only growing two plants not 16 like last year 😀 BTW I like the sound of that tomato chutney recipe I will keep it in mind this summer.

    1. 50 jars left! Goodness, you must have had an enormous crop of tomatoes. Tomato seeds are so tiny that it’s difficult to believe that a thimbleful can produce quite so many tomatoes.

  5. I wish I had a tomato glut now I’ve read all your lovely ideas for dealing with one! Having had a rubbish year of tomato growing last year I’ve only got a few plants this year, just enough to eat fresh each day. Maybe I’ll have to visit the local farmshop so I can try your ideas.

  6. No tomato glut for me either – just a nice steady trickle. But I will be keeping a note of your tomato chutney – just in case.

  7. Your tomato recipes look fabulous! My favourite is the green tomato mincemeat because I love the way you’ve written and drawn it! My preferred sandwich is also a tomato one and likewise I’m fussy about it – bread must be homemade wholemeal or granary (not white), butter must be unsalted and cold from the fridge, tomatoes must be ripe and room temperature and not chilled and must be sprinkled with salt and pepper, the addition of a few fresh basil leaves nice but optional! I eat these all summer long and never get tired of them! My tomatoes haven’t got anywhere near glut levels yet. I shall go and talk to them and see if I can egg them on! Enjoy all your tomato-cooking and eating including the ketchup! E x

  8. Ahhhh! I love your recipe drawing. Ah-mazing! I can’t wait until I have enough space to plant a bunch of heirloom tomatoes and end up with a glut!!

  9. Anne, what a lovely drawing of your green tomato chutney recipe. I was in England this past spring and thought about you on open farm day but I was in Dorset so not really in striking distance of you. I visited a very nice free range pig farm instead. I am loving the view from your kitchen and am glad you are having a fantasic summer weather wise. Cheers Sally

      1. Such a great word – Cavalier – showing a lack of proper concern; offhand.

        I think this is a great way to be about recipes, especially when one has been cooking a while. No need to feel (recipe) boxed in. 🙂

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