My Grandmother always used to say, “knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a salad”.
Though tomatoes are technically a fruit, as usefulness goes tomatoes are an essential element of a vegetable garden. They are about the easiest vegetable to grow and are a fantastic starter vegetable for any veggie garden. Choose to grow from seed (literally placing a sliced tomato in fertile soil is about as easy as it gets) or seedlings from the local nursery, and in no time you and your neighbours, cousins, colleagues and friends will be enjoying your crop.
Types of tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes are creepers so purchase a stand or fence to allow them to spread. Make sure you stalk the plant early on as doing it later may damage the roots. No need to secure the shoots, just entwine in the tomato stand and let the plants do the rest.
Standard size tomatoes no matter the variety tend to grow in bushes. These bushes need support so it’s advisable to buy a tomato cage or create your own to allow the shoots some rest as they carry the weight of those growing beauties.
Plant about 2 feet apart, tomatoes love the sun so allow each plant their space to enjoy the warmth.
Tomato plants need pruning, so it’s advisable to nip the stalks closest to the ground (avoiding bugs the opportunity to jump onto your plant) as well as between new branches. New shoots tend to develop at 45-degree angles between older branches, its best to nip these off otherwise your plant will become too bushy. The leaves are part of the nightshade family and hence poisonous so it is advisable to wash your hands.
Water around the roots (fruit-bearing plants always prefer root watering versus leafy vegetables that love a good shower overhead). Tomato plants may tend to rot if overwatered.
Feed with compost or fertilizer designed for fruit and flowering plants.
Once the fruit is ready for picking (it should be pink to light red on the vine), store outside at room temperature as refrigerating may hinder the fresh taste.
Classic Italian Tomato Sauce Recipe:
As for that classic Italian tomato sauce, it only requires 4 ingredients and is the perfect accompaniment to pasta, meats or even to eat on its own if you are a real tomato addict.
- Select 3 varieties of tomatoes and make sure one varietal are cherry tomatoes. They add a sweet distinctive flavour. Start off with a large quantity as the sauce reduces down significantly.
- extra virgin olive oil
- One clove of garlic
- One large brown onion.
Chop the tomatoes up and add to a bowl, keeping a cup of halved cherry tomatoes aside.
Coat the pan with olive oil and fry the onions and garlic until brown. Add the chopped tomatoes and turn down the heat to low, stirring every 15 mins. The tomatoes need to cook for at least an hour or two (depending on the number of tomatoes used). Add salt and pepper to taste.
Your sauce will be ready when the skins easily separate from the tomato and the liquid has significantly reduced. Strain the sauce using a strainer, remove the tomato skins and place back in a pot to further reduce and thicken. Your sauce should have a lovely heavy texture and rich flavour profile from the variety of tomatoes.
For the remaining halved cherry tomatoes – cook face down in a little olive oil and on a low heat for 10 to 15mins until the surface caramalises and blackens. Add to your final sauce to sweeten and add a chunky texture.
Serve or freeze.
Share this recipe with a veggie gardener, add a Kneepal and we are sure you’ll receive the first batch of sauce.
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