My neighbor grows tons of tomatoes. (Big Boys, I think.) Fortunately he shares his bumper crop with us.

One of my hobbies is collecting old cookbooks. I love reading the recipes. The explanations and terminologies tweak my imagination. My most precious was handwritten by my Oma Rose. She began writing it in 1901, the year after my mother was born. Her answer to too many tomatoes was Chili Sauce. This was her mother’s recipe.

  • 50 large tomatoes                                                                  6 hot peppers
  • 18 large onions                                                                        ½ cupful mixed spices
  • 12 large peppers (green)                                                      ½ cup salt
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar

Let boil until thick and stir constantly

Grind everything up

For Fried Ripe Tomatoes

Slice and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then dip in cracker crumbs and beaten egg as you would in preparing oysters to fry. Fry in butter until a delicate brown, or dip in flour, then egg and fry.

Here’s one for appetizers. Oma Rose credited it to a lady named Lillie Baker, and said it was fine.

Cut bread for toasting and shape with cover of large yeast powder can.

After toasting, butter heavily on both sides and then spread on one side a nice layer (not too thick) anchovy paste—then a slice of tomato (thin and peeled)—then grated cheese, quite heavy, and a little paprika and a little piece of butter and put in oven until cheese melts. Serve hot.

This one is something she called Tomato Lily. (I don’t know what this is so if you do, would you please write and tell me?)

Take one peck of green tomatoes, cut them in slices and sprinkle with salt. Put them in a jar and press them tight. Let them remain overnight. Next morning drain through a colander, add to them 12 onions sliced, ½ oz black pepper, 1 oz mustard, one lb. brown sugar, l oz cloves, 1 allspice. Put in a kettle, cover them with good vinegar and boil till tender.

To many tomatoes have always been a challenge for cooks. My favorite  cookbook called, the cookbook, was published by National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Kansas City Chapter, in 1979. This is a recipe from the cookbook.

Tomato-Pineapple Relish

Excellent accompaniment with meat

NOTE: A marvelous use for an abundance of home-grown tomatoes.

  • 2 cups ripe tomatoes, peeled and                                            2 teaspoons vinegar
  • chopped                                                                                           ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 box Sure Jell (I think that is unflavored gelatin)            ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1/12 cups crushed pineapple                                                    ¼ teaspoon ground clove
  • 2 teaspoons Worchestershire                                                    5½ cups sugar
  • sauce

In a large soup or stock pot, bring tomatoes quickly to a boil. Simmer and stir for 10 minutes. Add Sure Jell and remaining ingredients, except sugar, and bring to a hard boil, stirring constantly; Add sugar, bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off foam and continue to stir and skim for 5 minutes. Pour into medium size sterilized jars, one-half inch from top, add parafin and seal at once.

I have a copy of THE WHITE HOUSE COOK BOOK published in 1920 by Hugo Ziemann and Mrs. F.L. Gillette, Steward of the White House. This may have been a Woodrow Wilson favorite.

Baked Tomatoes

Peel and slice [tomatoes] quarter-of-an-inch thick; place in layers in a pudding-dish, seasoning each layer with salt, pepper, butter and a very little white sugar. Cover with a lid or large plate and bake half an hour. Remove the lid and brown for fifteen minutes. Just before taking from the oven pour over the top three or four tablespoonfuls of whipped cream with melted butter.

(This is me thinking—who ever heard of such a thing? But cream shows up in a lot in old tomato recipes)

If you have friends like my neighbor or are growing your own, I hope you enjoy eating as many tomatoes as possible fresh from the vine. The local Farmer’s Markets are full for fresh tomatoes right now. For the rest, don’t forget Fried Green Tomatoes. You can use my Oma Rose’s recipe for ripe ones.

 Bon Appétit.

4 Responses to TOMATOES

  • Cathy Thomas says:

    (Sure-Jell is for making jellies, jams, etc. ) I love your Oma’s recipe saying “mixed spices”. It’s so common to see that in old recipes. I love the references to things we no longer have like the “cover of large yeast powder can”. It’s fun to imagine.

  • Mike Lance says:

    Grilling is one of our favorite things to do with fresh summer tomatoes. Brush with olive oil, salt and pepper and cook them on the grill. When you take them off you can sprinkle “mixed spices”. Our favorite is minced fresh basil and oregano.

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