Did you know...?


NEVER refrigerate tomatoes.
Cold damages enzymes that produce flavor compounds and ruins texture by rupturing tomato cells, turning the flesh mealy. Even cut tomatoes should be kept at room temperature, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, and used within a few days.

 - Cook's Illustrated,
July & Aug., 2012



Todd's Salsa Perfection

10-12 C

TOMATOES (assorted for best flavor depth) - approx. 6 lbs. Blanched, peeled and cored.
  5 C PEPPERS, SWEET/MILD - approx. 2 lbs. Chopped and seeded
5 C ONION - chopped (Spanish, sweet, red or blend)
2 ½ C PEPPERS, HOT - chopped and seeded (jalapenos, Serrano's, habanero's, etc.)
  3-5 T GARLIC - chopped (if using fresh garlic adjust measurement accordingly; it is much stronger)
  1/4 C CILANTRO - fresh, minced
  3 tsp. SALT
  1 T HOT SAUCE, commercial (optional)
  2 cans TOMATO PASTE (6 oz. cans)
  2-3 T SUGAR
  2 cans BLACK BEANS, rinsed (14.5 oz. cans)
  2 cans CORN, drained (14.5 oz. cans)
YIELD: 12 quarts / 24 pints

Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot and big to a boil. Simmer a minimum of an additional 10 minutes. Process in hot water bath for 10 minutes. Please refer to the Ball™ website for complete home canning instructions.


The above recipe is for a MILD salsa. To increase the heat level add an additional 3 C of hot peppers; salsa will mellow as it ages in the jar. There is no 'right way' to make salsa. Use your imagination. The finished jars pictured above also had fresh pineapple added.

Smoked Paprika - From Seed to Spice

After I found this blog entry, I was determined that I was going to make my own homemade paprika. The 'recipe' is actually very easy.

1. Grow heirloom pepper plant(s).
2. Harvest peppers. Remove stem, ribs and seeds; quarter.
3. Dry the pieces.
4. Grind.

I had no problems with steps 1, 2 and 4. Step #3 had me somewhat frustrated. Traditionally - even historically - peppers are simply left to dry in the sun.....for a long time. This is where I falter - patience. 'How do I speed this process?', I asked myself. I decided to use my Dad's electric smoker. I put it on the back porch, laid out the peppers uniformly, set the temp for 125°F and walked away.

Let me just say that peppers have a lot of moisture content. Twenty hours later, the pepper pieces were reduced, but no where near dried. I cranked up the temperature to 145°F, and hoped I wasn't going to fry them to a crisp. Another 24 hours and they looked perfect. I was happy. I brought them into the house and to be honest, I left them on the kitchen counter for a week or so, having moved on to something else.

Now comes another surprise - a week later they still seemed too pliable! What? How can this be? Frustrated, and wanting them off my kitchen counter, I did the first thing that came to mind - I went to my dresser found a brand new pair of panty hose (bought in the previous decade), cut off the legs, stuffed each variety into one of the legs, tied it up and took them downstairs and hung each 'leg' over the furnace.

Two months later, I remembered them and went to check on 'em. Viola! Dried to perfection!

I'll skip the humorous part of my virgin pepper-grinding experience and go right to the good part: It does not matter how many different grinding machines you own that you think will grind crispy peppers. Not a full-sized Cuisinart, nor a mini one, nor a blender on high speed will effectively grind dried peppers; the only machine that will is a coffee bean grinder.

CHICKEN SALAD Stuffed Tomatoes
Zapotec Zapotec - sliced Zapotec - cored

This recipe is well suited for many adaptations. Mine is quick and easy and I usually don't go out of my way to purchase the ingredients, but instead use left-overs.

Cube cooked chicken/turkey. Add chopped onion. Add in cubed apple or grapes. Combine everything with mayo or salad dressing (not too much!). Salt and pepper to taste. Viola!

Roasted Tomato, Pepper & Garlic SALSA
Recipe submitted by Susan Collop, Melvindale, MI
Olive oil  
1 bunch Cilantro, fresh
Garlic bulb whole head of
5 Large beefsteak tomatoes, preferably of different colors and types
5 Peppers, mixed. Bell, Chiles, whatever you prefer. Best to mix types and colors.
1 Large whole sweet onion
Salt & Pepper to taste
Hot sauce Commercial type [Optional]

Remove stems from peppers, by either cutting around the stem and pulling it out (think carving a pumpkin) or just cutting off the top of the pepper altogether (but you waste a lot doing this). Remove seeds. Either cut peppers in half or quarters, depending on the type/size of pepper.

Cut top half of the garlic bulb off. You can then remove the hard center or just dispose of the cut piece.

Roughly chop onion. Don't make the pieces too small as they will burn easier. [NOTE: All veggies should be of equal size, to ensure even cooking.]

Remove any green stem from tomatoes. You can lightly core them, cut them in half or leave them whole (again depending on the size of the tomato). If you leave them whole, make sure you put little cuts in the tomatoes, so they won't burst in the oven.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Layout all the veggie pieces on the baking sheet and liberally drizzle olive oil over them. You may want to use your hands to make sure that they are evenly coated (or you can do this in a big bowl before you lay them on the baking sheet).

Put the baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes, checking on them often. If you want a deeper, smokier flavor, allow some pieces to char a bit. Once they are to your liking, remove from oven and let cool. Remove skins from tomatoes by pinching the skin with your fingers. Discard. Squeeze the broiled garlic from their skins. Chop the cilantro.

Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix well.

Using your food processor, process in batches until the entire bowl is empty. How chunky or thin you make it is up to you.

Making it ahead of time will all the flavors to mix in.

Recipe submitted by Jack Emery, MI
14 Habanero Peppers. (Remove stem. Cut in half. Leave in seeds.)
1 Medium onion (Cut in half).
3 or 4 cloves Garlic
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 Tsp. Salt
3/4 C Water
3/4 C Vinegar (Your choice - I use white).
1 Juice of one Lemon or Lime.
Place all ingredients in sauce pan and cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Place in food processer or blender. Refrigerate. Makes about 1 pint.

Roasted Panzella Salad
(Prepared by Marcia Sommerville at TomatoFest 2015)
Download this recipe


1 medium loaf of good, day old bread
olive oil to brush on bread (approx. 1/4 cup)
2 bell peppers, (red, orange and/or yellow)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 -3 medium zucchini or summer squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium red onion, cut into stripes
4 -6 pounds tomatoes, cubed
2 Tbsp. grape seed, olive or coconut oil (to roast veggies)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup basil, minced
2 Tbsp. thyme
1/2 cup capers, drained (optional)
1/2 cup kalamata olives (optional)
Sea salt to taste
olive oil as desired

Yields: About 4 small bowls


Brush sliced beard with olive oil and bake in oven at 400° F for about 5-7 minutes, continually checking to make sure it just slightly beginning to toast, flip and bake 3 minutes more, or until toasted. Cut into 1-inch croutons.

Roughly chop squash into same size. Leave peppers whole. Toss with onions, oil, sea salt and minced garlic. Roast at 400° F about 10 minutes or until slightly crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once cooled, remove the stems and seeds from peppers and roughly chop. Chop tomatoes and olives; Mince basil and thyme.

Combine the bread, tomatoes, olives, cappers, basil, thyme, lemon juice and roasted vegetables. Lightly drizzle with good olive oil and more lemon to taste. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes but will keep up to 3 days as the bread will soak and absorb more flavors.

Tomato Gazpacho
(Prepared by Marcia Sommerville at TomatoFest 2015)
Download this recipe


1-2 garlic cloves + 1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 - 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (OR 28 oz. fresh tomatoes, crushed by hand)
1 cup finely diced cucumbers
1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish to serve
1 small sweet yellow onion, finely diced
pinch of salt and pepper
24 oz. fresh tomatoes ( approx. 10-12 large equaling 2 lbs.)
2 Tbsp. Italian Dressing Herb mix* or commercial Italian seasoning
Good quality olive oil to finish
Avocado, your homemade croutons for garnish (optional)

Italian Dressing Mix recipe:
2 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. onion powder
2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. raw sugar
2 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. celery salt

To make Italian Dressing, whisk together 1/4 c. Bragg's Apple cider vinegar, 2/3 c. extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tbsp. water and 2 Tbsp. of dry mix.

Yields: About 4 small bowls


Place garlic into blender with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 4 or 5 of your tomatoes. Puree in the blender until smooth. In a large bowl, place all ingredients (except the olive oil for finishing) along with the garlic tomato puree and stir until combined. Lightly drizzle a little olive oil on top to finish. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours for the flavors to blend. Place gazpacho into a nice serving bowl, garnish with some extra fresh parsley and some homemade croutons or avocado.

Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches
(Prepared by Katelyn Dudley at TomatoFest 2015 )

Green tomatoes (unripe fruits, not green-when-ripe varieties)
slider buns (or any small buns will do)
cornmeal (or any kind of breadcrumb)
egg wash ( 4 - 6 eggs, whisked)
seasoned flour (I used salt, pepper and a little bit of garlic powder)
Boursin® Herb and Garlic cheese
Arugula (or any other kind of leafy green)
Balsamic Glaze ( found in stores, or you can make it yourself by boiling down balsamic vinaigrette until a glaze forms)

Coat tomatoes in flour, dredge thru egg wash and then cornmeal. Pan fry at medium high, in a shallow pan with about half an inch of oil. Fry each side for a minute or until golden brown and crispy.

Spread a layer of the Boursin® Herb and Garlic cheese on one side of bun, top with cooked tomato slice, then arugula. Drizzle with balsamic glaze.  Serve immediately.

(Prepared by Katelyn Dudley at TomatoFest 2015)

15 tomatoes (I used roma - types, but any will do)
3 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. Basil, minced
3 Tbsp. Parsley, minced
salt and pepper, to taste


French bread, sliced 3/4 inch thick, on the bias
Garlic butter or oil, (found in stores, or make your own)
Goat cheese, the spreadable type.
Balsamic glaze (found in stores, or you can make it yourself by boiling down balsamic vinaigrette until a glaze forms)


Dice tomatoes, mince garlic, chop basil (coarsely), chop parsley (fine), and salt and pepper to taste. Set bowl aside to let flavors marry.

Brush bread slices with garlic butter / oil, add a layer of goat cheese. Toast in the oven for 15 minutes or so at 350° F. Top with tomato mixture, drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve immediately.

Don't be afraid to play around with the recipe a bit!

Grilled Corn Salsa
(Prepared by Katelyn Dudley at TomatoFest 2015)

4 ears Corn
4 - 6 tomatoes, diced (depending on size)
2 Poblano peppers
1/2 c. scallions (chopped)
1/2 c. Jalapeno peppers (minced)
3 Tbsp. Lime juice
Salt and pepper, to taste


SOAK corn - in husk - for a minimum of 3 hours, but overnight is best. Chill the corn with the husk still on, for about 10 minutes. The outside will be charred, this is normal. Let corn cool. Once cooled, remove husks and cut the corn off the cob. Break up pieces.

GRILL, Poblanos WHOLE, until tender. Allow to cool. Once cooled, remove stem and seeds.

Combine diced tomatoes, minced jalapenos, sliced scallions and diced Poblanos. Add lime juice and salt and pepper. Refrigerate until completely cooled.

Note: For spicier salsa, add more jalapenos or for a tangier salsa, increase lime juice.

Caprese on a stick
(Prepared by Katelyn Dudley at TomatoFest 2015)


Grape tomatoes
Fresh mozzarella cheese (ball type, preferably)
Fresh Basil
Balsamic glaze  ( found in stores, or you can make it yourself by boiling down balsamic vinaigrette until a glaze forms)
4 - inch wooden skewers


Slice mozzarella balls in half (or cube block style). Cut tomatoes in half (or use whole). Alternate each ingredient onto skewer, drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Tomato Jam
Tomato Jam
(Prepared by Katelyn Dudley at Tomato Fest 2017)


2 lbs TOMATOES(the juicier the better!)
1 1/2 Tbsp minced GINGER
1 Tbsp minced GARLIC (about 2 cloves)
1 - 3 minced JALAPENOS (varies with heat preference)
1 tsp ground CUMIN
1 1/4 C. SUGAR
1 LIME (juiced)
SALT & PEPPER to taste


Sweat down ginger, garlic and jalapenos in vegetable/olive oil with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. After sweating for about 5 minutes, add tomatoes which have been roughly chopped, lime juice, sugar and ground cumin.

Allow the tomatoes to cook down and reduce by half or until the jam is to the consistency you desire. Salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cool completely.

Best served with toasted bread, cheeses, grilled cheeses, etc. The possibilities are endless!