Thursday, March 01, 2007


I'm trying to calculate the remaining time until tomatoes come into ripeness against the dwindling supply of bags of tomato sauce in my freezer.
Let's see. Last year my lone tomato plant was incinerated in a heat wave. The year before that, I was harvesting ripe 'maters by the end of June — that was really early.
This year looks to be kind to farmers, with the exception of citrus growers who were hurt by an extended freeze earlier this winter. Tomatoes should be right about on schedule, which means the really good ones might start showing up in July, certainly August, in markets — but I'll have been dining on my own long before then.
(Yeah, I've decided to plant again this year; maybe four plants.)
So the question remains: How fast should I be scarfing up the frozen sauce?
OK, I've got 8 bags left. Each holds about two cups. There are, let's say, four months to go until the beginning of good tomatoes starts reaching either the market, or ripeness in my garden.
Easy math. I've gotta use a cup of tomato sauce per week, on average, until summer.
Oh my, I've been running behind. I must make loads and loads of wintery tomato dishes. Soup. Spaghetti. Braised shanks.
What a delicious quandary.
How have you been using your preserved tomatoes?
No, really! I need some ideas.


Sam said...

oh dear - i don't think i am using mine nearly fast enough.
I must have at leat 20 x 2 cup bags left.

the best think i did so far was take my left over oxtail veg and make a sauce with the tomato. I still have oxtail veggies left so I am going to do it again and use the sauce on a lasagne.

I am also going to make some chicken tikka masala and we are soon to run out of our spicy tomato chutney so perhaps I could make a batch using my frozen tomato?

cookiecrumb said...

I expected to hear from you, Sam. I expected to hear that you were way behind with your 20 bags. That was a lot (even though I was jealous and ashamed at the time, you were being so industrious). I also expected to hear that you would probably make more batches of your chutney. Definitely! Still got those pretty jars?

drbiggles said...

Yeah, I dunno. Sounds like too much grief to me. I use them as I feel the need. When I run out, time for something else. I feed the beast when he's hungry.


Anita said...

If any of you have extras you need to offload, let me know. I have a big freezer :D

We use a portion of ours in nearly every Batali recipe we make.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that I had your 'problem!'

We moved in July, too early for a harvest at the old house, too late to plant at the new, so I didn't have my usual garden last summer, which includes at least a dozen tomato plants. I am in withdrawal here, down to the last 2 quarts of my canned sauces. I am already planning my new garden here, as soon as the ground thaws here in Central Illinois. Fortunately, there were fabulous farmers' markets around here to get my fix.

Oh, did you have a question?

I'd use the good stuff on pasta, maybe adding some roasted garlic, crushed red pepper and Parmiggiano-Reggiano. Sauteed pancetta is always good with that, too. Or make a spread for crostini, or to top off a baked egg in a ramekin, with a little mozzarella on top.

And boy, you take lovely pictures!

cookiecrumb said...

Biggles: I just don't want to use canned if I can avoid it; apparently I CAN avoid it because I have so much frozen stuff. (What. Aren't you an anal crumb counter? Feh. You and your 193ยบ coffee water.) :D

Anita: I just got a Batali cookbook; better start thumbin' through it or else I'll have to drop a frozen care package off.

Anonymous: I can't imagine the luxury of a dozen tomato plants. We have deer, so everything needs to be inside a fence... But the inside of my fence is all concrete, so the tomatoes go in pots.
I like your idea of the egg 'n' sauce.

Lisa said...

I have about 6 2-cup containers of frozen left, but that math is too hard. I'm just using it as it strikes my fancy. Lately, like this:

Generous splash of olive oil in a hot pan. Add some cooked white beans (cannelini, whatever), stir, add rough chopped savoy cabbage, pinch of salt, stir. Dash of water, lid, 'til the cabbage wilts a bit. Then lots of garlic and enough tomato sauce to coat the whole mess without drowning it. Stir until hot.

cookiecrumb said...

Lisa: Superb! I'm afraid I'll go through the entire stash with your recipe. It sounds like... food!
(I love how you write recipes.)

El said...

Funny, but before you posted this I posited the same question to meself. The freezer stash is looking lower than I thought because the kid is now a spaghetti fiend, and I, the dutiful one, cater to her every whim, particularly the food-related ones.

If you dare, you can reduce one of your one cups to almost a no-cup and then whizz the beautiful stuff with a huge handful of basil and toasted walnuts or almonds or pinenuts for another pasta-coating substance. It works well on baguette toast, too. If you're ambitious, run some garlic on it first.

But yeah, I usually just continue to water the stuff down. Our supper tonight was rotini and frozen sauce with just salt. Still yummy, still summer.

D-man said...

cc: brown meat on all sides in olive oil, along with a few garlic cloves. add stock and porcinis, cover and braise for 2 hours. add chopped onions and veggies, spices, simmer for at least another hour. serve over pasta....with a nice dark beer, or, er uh, wine, yeah wine is good too.

I go through my sauce WAY too fast, and am seriously jonesin' for some. I am making a vow right now to be better about preserving some of that summer madness when tomato season hits. (My little ones are about 3 inches tall and looking good, I have high hopes for my foggy little garden.)


kayenne said...

anyone up for tomato and basil sherbet?

cookiecrumb said...

El: I love that you feed your little beast what she wants. Does she know how good she has it?
I like your reducing-down idea, on crostini. I can do that. Mm: nuts.

D-Man: Aw, you got plants already? I bet you started from seeds. Dam.
Yes, tomato and meat is a sure-fire eatability. What did you think of Lisa's beans and cabbage? Yum-o.

Kayenne: That's a darn-sure yes.

Katie said...

Tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkin OH MY
I've got a lot of eaten' to do as well. I have a freezer just for garden veg...

cookiecrumb said...

Katie: Oh! How lucky. I've been debating a freezer for about a year, but since I don't grow much of my own produce it seems... what, obsessive? Still.