I'm okay with it. Tomato season is an intense, nearly religious experience for us here, and by the end of it, having stuffed myself on tomatoes every single day of the whole, entire summer and devoted unbelievable amounts of time and energy to buying, planting, staking, roping up, pruning, picking suckers off of, spraying, harvesting, and eating tomatoes, I'm ready for the change of seasons. The ol' circle of life. Time to buy squash and make soup out of root vegetables. I'm down with it.
I've taken the radical (for me) step of taking some of the plants down early, which I don't usually do - but most of them are done producing or nearly so, and tomato plants make up for their early season gorgeousness by becoming blighted, rotted, gnarly eyesores in the early fall. And when you have fifteen blighted, rotted, gnarly, eyesores on your front porch, it makes a statement. That statement is, "Hey, someone call the health department!" or maybe "Don't let your kids trick-or-treat at that house."
Gone are both of the Sungolds, the Taxi and Glacier, the Grushovka, and the Silvery Fir. Severely pruned back to just a few remaining branches with ripening fruit are the Dona, Black Prince, Green Zebra, and Stripey. The ones in the ground are faring better, not rotting and dying like their potted counterparts, so I've left those for now - Isis, Jaune Flamme, and Brandywine. But I don't expect much more.
I'll post tasting notes later about which ones are coming back next year and which ones aren't.
Last weekend I picked about sixty tomatoes - mostly small ones, but they filled an entire collander - and made a huge pot of one of the best pasta sauces I've ever had. So, so good. I like my pasta sauce simple - nothing fancy, not a lot of spices. We froze a couple portions to bring some joy to a cold, rainy winters day a few months hence.
Here's the simple recipe I use:
Basic Pasta Sauce
- Seed a bunch of tomatoes by cutting them in half horizontally and swiping them out with your fingers. (Doesn't have to be perfect but the more the better - the seeds make the sauce slightly bitter.) Chop the up roughly.
- Heat up a couple tablespoons (I never measure it) olive oil in a big saute pan on medium.
- Slice up 2-3 onions in a rough chop and saute medium-low for a really long time, stirring occasionally - let them turn all brown and caramely over at least 45 minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt to help them break down. Patience here is the most important step.
- If you want garlic, add it for the last few minutes before you put the tomatoes in and saute briefly. I use 3-4 cloves chopped up.
- Add a hunk of butter (2 tb or so), melt it down into the onions, then add the tomatoes. Stir and raise the heat a little to get them started with breaking down. I often take a potato masher and smoosh them up a bit at this point, just to help make it more saucelike and less like whole pieces of tomatoes.
- Add seasonings if you want them - I often use just a big hunk of dried or fresh basil and nothing else, but oregano is good and you could go nuts and add all kinds of other things -- and simmer on med-low for 45 minutes or so.