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52 Weeks Fresh: Prepping for Tomato Bounty

There’s no such thing as having too many tomatoes, but it does pay to be prepared for the onslaught. The fruits are just beginning to ripen in East Coast gardens, so we have about two weeks to get ready for tomato mania.

Until then, take advantage of near-ripe varieties by making fried green tomatoes. Green ones appear in September and October (when there isn’t enough heat to fully ripen those still growing), so now is a great time to test and refine your techniques for the main event. A dollop of goat cheese on top with some torn fresh basil and cayenne powder will balance the tart flavor. Or keep the stove off by making a raw tomato sauce. Dice fresh tomatoes, and mix them with olive oil, finely chopped garlic and basil, along with some rosemary and sage.

The ruby-red prizes will start popping up in the next two weeks, so below is a primer to the tools you’ll need to can the fruit to have year-round.

What to have on hand:

  • Colanders (for proper ventilation as you store tomatoes on the countertop)
  • Large bowls
  • Paper bags (for ripening)
  • Freezer bags (for quick storage)
  • Canning jars and lids
  • A food processor or blender
  • 1-2 large stockpots
  • Baking sheets (for drying tomatoes)
  • Markers and masking tape (for labeling)

The next post will cover processing the early yield.

PRODUCE REPORT: String beans of all kinds are looking good. Prepare them in advance by quickly blanching them after you pick them. Store in the fridge in a sealed container for up to a week for quick salads and snacks.

The quinoa is now about three feet tall and budding nicely (pictured above); the amaranth is about six feet tall. The garden bed with sauce ingredients will be ready for harvesting in about two weeks.

EAT WITH THE SEASON: Mix up your pestos. Follow your favorite pesto recipe, but swap in fresh parsley or sorrel for the classic basil. If pine nuts are difficult to find, sunflower seeds are a nice alternative. Don’t forget the garlic, olive oil and Parmesan.

Self-taught gardener Michael Blakeney enjoys his Bedford, N.Y., garden all year: working in it, watching it grow and eating it through every season.  A visual artist and arts educator, Mike has been gardening for 25 years. You can find him at and on Instagram at mikegrowgarden1.


Comments (12)

  1. linda posted 08/08/2014

    the fact that you grow your own quinoa is amazing!! you will have
    the most delicious quinoa tomato concoction in the next few weeks!!! lucky.

  2. digs posted 08/08/2014

    Wow great mike :)
    do any of your tomatoes not look so good, the leaves?

    • Michael posted 08/10/2014

      I do have some yellow leaves sometimes. I remove them as soon as I see them.

  3. Beth posted 08/09/2014

    Wow- beautiful tomatoes! I love the idea of sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts – good substitute.

  4. Calli posted 08/09/2014

    My favorite time and my favorite 'eat' – tomatoes!
    As always, Michael is so creative! Thank you for the fabulous suggestions for green tomatoes! and all the other tips!
    Heading off to the farmers' market for some fresh tomatoes so that I can try them. Can't wait!

  5. Don Denne posted 08/10/2014

    I love tomato season and making caprese salads with fresh basil! Also bruschetta and salsas for summer parties at the pool. there are so many great varieties.

  6. Deanna posted 08/11/2014

    Love the alternative suggestions for pesto and tomatoes! Yum!!

  7. Liana posted 08/12/2014

    I love the idea of fried green tomatoes…I'm going to try that! And pesto with sunflower seeds sounds so yummy. Thanks again Michael for the great suggestions. Looking forward to the next post.

  8. Bonnie posted 08/13/2014

    Your tomatoes look amazing! Are those husk berries in one picture? I'd like to know more about them and how I can grow them next year.

    • Michael posted 08/20/2014

      Yes, those are husk cherries (also called ground cherries). They enjoy the same soil conditions as tomatoes and ripen about the same time; the plant structure resembles that of tomatillo (but smaller).

  9. Matt posted 08/16/2014

    I am the only one in my house that enjoys tomatoes. i am looking forward to those canning tips.

  10. Carolyn posted 08/19/2014

    Fresh food is the right of every human because it's the basic need of human and without this we can't survive. I am very happy to see that you are providing all the fresh food on your doorstep and people are essay writing services enjoying fresh tomato a lot.

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