LIKE THE BEST RECIPES, it’s a hand-me-down, delivered in the best oral tradition: told to me over a meal, and recorded on a paper napkin. At breakfast with my old friend Irene Sax recently—a longtime food writer, and my former “Newsday” colleague—I was panicking about my late-summer vegetable glut, and she said: “Vegetable soup. I make it all the time, freeze it, and eat it every day for lunch.” And then I realized: I don’t know how to make proper vegetable soup. Or didn’t, until then. The extra-easy recipe. [read more…]
How to grow tomatoes, America's favorite "vegetable" (really a fruit!). Covered here: organic tomato growing from seed to harvest, including tomato disease prevention, heirloom versus hybrid tomato varieties, and even growing grafted tomatoes, ripening half-red ones, and making easy tomato sauce.
I LOVE A GOOD APRON, and never more than when batch after batch of tomatoes, herbs, and soup ingredients are moving from garden to kitchen to kettle to cupboard. When I saw the hand cut and sewn linen aprons made by my neighbor, Franca Fusco, at her shop called Boxwood Linen, and heard her say that she and her Italian-born mother were going to process some tomatoes, I thought: I need to share their wonderful enthusiasm—and one of Franca’s amazing aprons—with you. Get inspired by their technique, and maybe win the apron Franca and Aida rely on, too. [read more…]
I’VE ALWAYS JUST SMEARED the seedy innards of heirloom tomatoes on paper toweling, let them dry, and then stored them for the coming year–maybe rinsing the stuff in a strainer first, maybe not. That’s how to save tomato seeds the easy way. But fermenting the goopy gel and juice first for a few days offers some important benefits: The process may reduce some seed-borne diseases, and it also breaks down a germination-inhibitor in the gelatinous matter around the seed. (It also smells really bad, so pick your location wisely!) The story (also in podcast): [read more…]
THEY’VE ALREADY STARTED on the fall cleanup. The tobacco hornworms, or Manduca sexta, that is–who love to chomp late in the garden season here on my haze of self-sown Nicotiana, or flowering tobacco–the annuals I let spread themselves around for my visual pleasure and to attract hummingbirds. But how do I know these voracious giant green caterpillars aren’t actually their close cousins the tomato hornworms, Manduca quinquemaculata (since both species will eat Solanaceous crops such as tobacco and tomato)? It’s all in the stripes, and the “horns.” [read more…]
A READER WROTE IN THE OTHER DAY saying a storm had toppled her tomatoes, breaking off a fruit-laden branch or two. What to do with all those green tomatoes, she wondered? Well, there’s more than one way to ripen a tomato (and if all else fails there is always green tomato-apple mincemeat or chutney to be made). Tomato-ripening tactics (plus the backup-plan “mincemeat” recipe). Or if your plants or fruit are having other difficulties, maybe you need the Tomato Troubles FAQ page instead?