Call ’em plum, paste, or roma tomatoes. Don’t like ’em. Seriously. Has there ever been a less flavorful tomato?
I grew Saucey (yes, with an annoying ‘e’) last year, and I liked them better than the others, except for two things: one, they still tasted bad raw; and two, they developed blossom-end rot and I couldn’t use them for canning. So even a plum tomato I liked was ultimately not so usable. It did make a brilliant sauce for the freezer, though.
Last year’s salsa was made with a lug of regular, commercial, plum tomatoes from a local farm. I spent hours peeling and coring the little buggers. The salsa came out as to be expected: watery and tasteless.
This year, I combatted the plum peril in several ways.
First, I saved the peels when I peeled the tomatoes. The easiest way to peel tomatoes is to slash the skin with a knife, then plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then slip off the skins. (I dispense with the icewater final plunge.) If you look at the peels, you’ll see a fine layer of flesh that comes off with the peels — beautiful, brilliantly red, tasty flesh. It’s a shame to waste it, plus, the peels add fiber and richness to the sauce. I squeeze, food-mill, and/or food-process the peels with some tomato juice and add them back into my sauce. Thus, a watery salsa becomes this:
This year’s salsa was much more flavorful, with a melange of pasilla, poblano, ripe and green jalapeños, Hungarian hot and sweet peppers, fresh white onion, and thick tomato sauce. I processed it a bit longer in the hot water bath to ensure the thickness wouldn’t create a problem for food safety.
The second tomato technique I used was the slow roast method. This one is wonderful for leftover tomatoes, even the bland plum tomatoes you have left over from cooking. Cut plum tomatoes in slices or halves, then cook tomatoes overnight in a low oven (200 degrees) in roasting pans with thick slices of onion, whole garlic, salt, and a good hit of olive oil. As the tomato liquid cooks away, you’ll be left with a wonderful base for sauce or stewed tomatoes that can be frozen. This year, I processed the whole batch into roasted tomato sauce, but I’ve also left it whole, and frozen it in gallon-sized ziploc bags. Either way, it makes a wonderful winter pasta sauce.
And last…tomato water! I saved all the cores and remaining peels from all my tomato preparations, and froze the tomato water in ice cube trays. Replace water with tomato water in any soup or pasta recipe, and you’ll add flavor. And that’s what it’s all about.