The first tomato harvest of the season

I am so happy with the tomato harvest that I want to share some of the photos of it. I will be using the tomatoes this Friday for my cooking class, "A Tomato Dinner from My Garden" and my students will have a chance to taste every variety that I grow. The rest of the tomatoes my mother and I will can on Saturday. Here is a shot of my favorite tomato this year: "the little horned one", there on the vine in the lower left corner, ripe and ready to be picked.

The plant is of the "cuore di bue" or "ox heart" variety that my dad planted along with the San Marzanos and it produced more tomatoes that I thought it would.  I didn't want to pick it, because it was so cute, but it finally ended up in the box along with its mates.

Here is my mom picking the San Marzanos. Look how many tomatoes each cluster produces.

I made lots of trips from the garden to the house yesterday;  I think I probably picked about 100 pounds of tomatoes!

My mom likes to keep them on a flat surface, not in a box, until we are ready to can them. We usually  keep the tomatoes in my basement for four or five days. The temperature is cool there and this will maximize their sugar content and turn them a deep red.

Take a look at the table covered with them all and then, if you really want to be impressed, check my previous post to see the size of my garden.

Can you believe how many tomatoes you can grow in a small area?  The next harvests will be somewhat smaller, but I will end up canning more than 80 jars for the season and still have plenty to eat every day, as well as enough to bring to my cooking classes.

I have been picking cherry tomatoes for weeks on a daily basis, and from only two plants, but I still pick more than I'm able to eat raw everyday...

... so I roast the ones I can't keep up with, and then add them to dishes during the days following.  You can keep roasted tomatoes in the refrigerator for up to a week. They are very easy to prepare. Just place them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast them at 300 degrees for a couple of hours until they are wrinkled and look like this:

The roasting concentrates their flavors by caramelizing the natural sugars that they taste like candy.  They are good to place on top of a bruschetta with ricotta, or toss with olive oil, garlic and lots of fresh basil in some pasta.  They are also tasty on top of pizza, along with other roasted vegetables.

I will continue this post next week with picture of my canning day.