Autumn is rapidly approaching. So rapidly, in fact, that it arrives tonight! Here on this little farm (in Eastern Daylight Time) we will officially transition from summer to autumn at 11:09 pm.
What this means is that the sun is exactly over the equator at 3:09 am, Universal Time, and today the daytime and the nighttime will be as equal as they get.
Which means that from now on our nights will start getting longer.
And days will get shorter.
And summer is officially over...
Which means that my very most favorite thing about summer, fresh tomatoes, will soon be gone.
If I wrote an encyclopedia, I'd put a picture of a fresh tomato under the entry about "summer." Sure, I like feeling that warm sun on my cheeks, the smell of fresh cut grass, the bright colors of summer flowers, and that deliciously long daylight, making for romantic late night sunsets. But tomatoes define summer for me.
Are you like me? Do you gobble up as many fresh tomatoes as you can fit into your meals throughout the summer? Tomato salads, fresh tomato salsa, tomato omelets, pasta tossed with chopped tomato, tomato sandwiches, and just plain old sliced tomatoes on a plate? Oh, and don't forget just standing in the garden picking cherry tomatoes and popping them right into your mouth... certainly I'm not the only one...
Although there's nothing like the taste and texture of a fresh vine ripened tomato, many of us try to save that summer bounty by preserving them. I put up as many canned tomatoes, salsas, sauces, and tomato based soups as I can. Any time I pop the lid off a jar of plain old home canned tomatoes and smell that tomato goodness I announce, "That smells like summer to me."
Sometimes I dehydrate tomatoes, too. They take up so little space and they give such a tangy burst of rich tomato flavor!
But something else I like to do is freeze romas. They freeze beautifully! They retain that deep red color. They keep their shape and that nice meatiness. And maybe it's my imagination, but it seems like freezing them intensifies their sweetness.
Frozen romas can be used in soups, stews, and chili. You can throw frozen romas into a the pan when you're baking chicken or pork chops and serve one of those nice baked tomatoes as a simple side. They can be thawed and chopped and added to spaghetti sauce you bought or canned yourself. Or you can serve them with scrambled eggs or in an omelet.
My biggest recommendation is to skin the romas first, before freezing them. I've frozen romas without taking the skins off and I regretted it. Those skins become chewy and bothersome in your mouth and mess up an otherwise fabulous meal.Freezing romas is one of the easiest things to do... here's how I do it:
Pick the prettiest romas that you can find. Drop a few at a time into boiling water for about a minute, until the skins start to crack, and transfer them to the sink filled with ice cold water. Peel off the skins, cut out a little bit of the core (optional) and place them on a baking sheet lined with freezer paper. I try to put as many on the baking sheet as will fit, letting them touch each other as little as possible. Freeze them for several hours, then put them into resealable plastic bags. You might rather vacuum seal them, but I prefer to use resealable freezer bags so that I can remove twos or fews at a time without thawing the whole bag of tomatoes.
If you find some romas at a farmer's market, or if you have some lurking in your garden, you might want to try freezing them. The next time our season changes it will be to that one that begins with a "w." What a joy it will be to pull out a bag of summer goodness from your freezer in the "w_____!