We have had a few warm days and a few frosts, but today was just so cold, and we know that it will be below freezing tonight, and the temperatures should be quite cold for the next few days. This year I planted so many tomatoes from seed, and I had them in raised beds, as well as pots and anywhere else I could fit them in. Next year, I will organize and support my tomato plants better – I promise! For now I have been scurrying around bringing in my bumper crop of green tomatoes, before they freeze on the vine.
In the past few weeks, I have brought in and canned every tomato that has been close to turning red, and even a few green ones. I have made, Zesty Chili Sauce, Bruschetta Preserves, and Herb Garden Blender Spaghetti Sauce. If I can gather up some more canning jars, I will be making Salsa tomorrow.
In the meantime, I have so many green tomatoes in my kitchen, that I am attempting to ripen by placing them with bananas in a paper bag. Ripe bananas release ethylene gas naturally which will help the tomatoes to ripen – HOPEFULLY!
I also have a recipe for Green Tomato Relish ready!
Here’s a post about bringing in last year’s tomatoes. Last year I had too few tomatoes. this year – a plethora!
I am tidying up the garden today, getting ready for winter. Although we have had our first frost, I still have a few tomatoes on the vine and I am bringing them in. This year I have limited space and did not create a dedicated vegetable garden, and so my tomatoes are all in pots. I have a small harvest, but not as much to deal with as in previous years with my raised vegetable bed. I may put one together in the spring, as the yield is just not the same, but I’m not sure if I’ll get to it. Winter is a time to plan future gardens.
I love tomatoes, and use them in everything. My homegrown combination of beefsteak, roma and cherry tomatoes taste mysteriously sweeter than store or market bought, and make me wonder what’s in my garden soil.
Tomatoes provide us with vitamin A, B6, C, E, K, biotin, molybdenum, copper, potassium, manganese, fiber, folate, niacin, phosphorus. What is unique about tomatoes is that they are an important source of lycopene. Lycopene is an anti-oxidant which is supposed to reduce our risk for heart disease and cancer. A negative side of tomatoes, is that they are acidic and if acid reflux is an issue for you, it’s best to avoid or reduce your consumption.
Tomato plants are a member of the nightshade family, and contain the chemical solanine. Solanine has been said to be an inflammatory chemical, and has been thought to cause arthritis. Solanine is a nerve poison for insects, which seems to keep the bugs and rabbits from eating my garden tomatoes. (It’s the only vegetable in my garden that survives the rabbits). It seems that people can have a sensitivity to solanine in tomatoes, which can trigger arthritis pain, but apparently not all of us are sensitive in this way. You might consider removing all nightshade foods from your diet for a few weeks to see if you feel less arthritis pain, without them.
I feel that the jury is still out on tomatoes, with some information that solanine can increase not only arthritis inflammation, but also cancer and heart disease risk. On the other hand lycopene has been shown to protect against, lung, stomach, colon, oral, breast and cervical cancers and to improve outcomes for those with prostrate cancer. We often cook tomatoes into sauces and salsas. Processing tomatoes at high temperatures and cooking them with olive oil, has been shown to reduce many of the nutrients, but the good news is that it increases the levels of lycopene that our bodies can absorb. So the copious quantities of garden tomatoes, that I harvested, pureed with basil and spices boiled, and froze for pasta sauce are still Super-foods. A bit of summer on the coldest day of the year here.
A quick warning though. When tomatoes are canned, the can linings contain BPA, which is a synthetic estrogen. Since tomatoes are acidic, the BPA can leach into the food, and that is not good at all. So stick to BPA free jarred or fresh tomatoes.
This week I will be making and canning some salsa, and making and freezing some tomato sauce. Hopefully, I will remember to share the sauce recipe.
Here is the link to the sauce recipe: https://gardenlove.food.blog/2019/11/19/herb-garden-blender-spaghetti-sauce/