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Fresh ways to prepare all types of tomatoes

June 10, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Got a bumper crop? Time to prepare what you grow.

"I put my tomatoes in the garden in March, and right now my tomato plants are just bursting life," said Paul McCullough, co-author of Roma-therapy.

Twenty-two plants to be exact, which means McCullough and Jeremy Stanford, who wrote Roma-therapy, have a lot to work with. If you haven't got yours into the ground, the time is now. First choose a spot where your plant gets the most sun.

"You want to look to add compost, a little fertilizer, some organic elements, some mulch, you really want a rich, rich, rich organic soil," Stanford said.

Good soil equals good fruit. Stanford says tomatoes need a bit of stress, so don't over water - every 3 or 4 days is fine.

"If you over water, you dilute the taste of the tomatoes," Stanford said.

And if by chance you've produced far more tomatoes than you or your neighbors can eat, beyond canning and jamming, McCullough says, "There's so many applications you can use with tomatoes: fresh, roasted, cooked in sauces."

Roasting is a great way to enjoy tomatoes.

"I'll cut them in half, drizzle with some beautiful olive oil and some sea salt and pepper. Put them in the oven for an hour at 425, and you have beautiful roasted Romas," McCullough said.

It's good for sauces, soups and more. He also makes an unconventional jam, simmering tomatoes on stovetop, adding spices like cumin and jalapeno and turning a bumper crop of tomatoes into zesty tomato jam.

Cherry tomatoes, which ripen quickly, work well in puff-pastry appetizers. Or try making a stacked caprese salad, with heirlooms, Mozzarella, caramelized onion, basil and olive oil.

"I love lemon boys and to bring out the natural sweetness I like to sear them in a pan with some olive oil," McCullough said.

No matter what you choose, growing will save a bundle if you treat them right.

"You're going to pay so much in the market, 7.99 a pound sometimes for these. A tomato plant costs you four bucks," McCullough said.


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