An old Chinese proverb says that "Life begins the day you start a garden." And nothing quite equals the flavor of tomatoes when they are ripened on the vine and eaten within minutes or hours of picking.
The season is at hand when you probably find your gardening so successful that you are rewarded with "tons" of tomatoes. And if you have no garden, you may well be fortunate enough to share in someone else's bountiful crop.
In either case, consider making some condiments with these wonderfully ripe, abundant food. Here are recipes which usually require quite large amounts of tomatoes.
Today, tomatoes are so much a part of our everyday meals that we cannot imagine cooking without them, especially in sauces and relishes that add variety and zest to the family menu. Really Red Chili Sauce 18 medium-size tomatoes 3 large onions 3 large sweet red peppers 3/4 cup sugar 1 tablespoon salt 2 cups vinegar 1 tablespoon celery seed 1 tablespoon mustard seed 1/4 cup finely chopped preserved ginger 3 tablespoons mixed pickling spice
wash 5 pint preserving jars in hot soapy water. Rinse. Cover with hot water until ready to fill. Cover two-piece jar lids with very hot water in separate pan. Wash and core tomatoes. Cut in eights. Put tomatoes. onions, and red peppers through coarse blade of food grinder.
Combine ground vegetables with sugar and salt in large kettle. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in vinegar, celery seed, mustard seed, and ginger. The pickling spices in cheesecloth. Push down into vegetables. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 40 minutes.
Remove pickling spice bag. Ladle into hot jars. Fill to within 1/2-inch of top. Wipe rims. Seal jars. Process 15 minutes in boiling water bath. Cool. Label. Store in cold dry place. Makes 5 pints. Tomato-Apple Chutney 12 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped 12 large apples, finely chopped 8 medium onions, finely chopped 2 large green peppers, seede and finely chopped 1 1/2 quarts white vinegar 4 cups light brown sugar 2 cups golden raisins 4 teaspoons salt 1/3 cup mixed pickling spices, tied in cheesecloth bag.
Combine all ingredients in large pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook about 1 1/2 hours, stirring frequently, until mixture is thick and syrupy. Remove spice bag. Ladle boiling hot into 12 1-pint sterilized jars and seal according to manufacturer's directions. Cool. Store in cool, dry place. Makes 12 pints. Tomato Ketchup 1 peck ripe tomatoes, quartered 5 onions, sliced 1 small clove garlic 2 red peppers, seeded 1 1/2 bay leaves 1 tablespoon salt 1 tablespoon allspice 1 tablespoon celery seed 1 teaspoon ceyenne 2 inches stick cinnamon 1/2 cup sugar 2 cups vinegar
Boil first 6 ingredients until soft. Strain through sieve. Add spices, tied in a cloth bag, and sugar to tomato mixtures and boil rapidly, stirring occasionally until thick, or quantity is reduced one half. Remove spices. Add vinegar and boil 10 minutes longer. Pour into sterile bottles and seal. Makes about 6 quarts. Dilled Green Tomatoes 15 medium-size green tomatoes Fresh dill or dill seed Whole cloves 5 cloves garlic, peeled Ceyenne pepper 1 quart vinegar 1 quart water 1/3 cup salt
Wash 5 1-quart preserving jars in hot soapy water. Drain. Cover jar lids with very hot water in separate pan. Wash tomatoes. Cut into 1/4-inch slices. Pack into jars. Add 3 heads of fresh dill or 2 tablespoons dill seed, 1 clove garlic, slashed, 1 whole clove and 1/2 teaspoon ceyenne to each jar.
Boil vinegar, water, and salt in a medium- size saucepan for 5 minutes. Pour boiling mixture over tomatoes, filling jars to within 1/2 inch of tops. Wipe rims. Seal jars. Process 20 minutes in boiling water bath. Cool and label. Let stand in cool, dry place at least 6 weeks to develop flavor. Makes 5 quarts. Tomato Mayonnaise 4 medium tomatoes 1/2 sweet red pepper, seeded, or 4 ounces canned pimentos, drained 1 teaspoon salad oil, preferably olive 1 teaspoon tarragon or chives, or combination 2 cups mayonnaise
Peel, seed, and mince tomatoes with red pepper or pimentos. Place in medium skillet with oil and saute over lowest heat, approximately 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally until tomatoes are reduced to a paste and mixture has cooked down to about 3/4 cup. Remove from heat and add herbs. Cool. Fold into mayonnaise, mixing to blend well. Refrigerate.
This sauce will keep in refrigerator for 2 weeks. Makes about 2 1/2 cups. USe this mayonnaise-based sauce with cold chicken or fish or in egg, vegetable, chicken, or seafood salads.