“Salvaged Tomato” Tomato Stock
Our community garden planted rows of tomatoes this summer. The plants are huge and look really healthy but unfortunately, most of the fruit has blossom-end rot. This shows up in my picture as the black spots on the end of the tomatoes. It can be caused by various factors (chemical imbalance, uneven watering, acidic soil) and can happen to peppers, cucumbers and melon as well. A quick internet search provides one with several remedies but when I was discussing this problem with other gardeners this summer, I heard Epsom salt mentioned repeatedly. Epsom salt provides magnesium to depleted soil so this is something we will have to test for before next summer.
While most people would discard these tomatoes, I had to try to salvage a small handful. While some of the tomatoes were really rotten and water-logged, I picked others that had only minimal damage. I trimmed away and composted the bad sections and then chopped the remaining tomatoes for this stock (which is just one of many ways to use tomatoes that might not be appealing to eat raw). You could also use “tomato seconds” which are the tomatoes that don’t look great but are still still useable. They are typically sold at a deep discount so stock up and use them for other cooked applications (tomato jam and oven-roasted tomatoes come to mind).
This stock can be used in a number of ways:
- Soup: use this in place of water or veggie stock anywhere you want a tomato background note (vegetable soup, Tuscan white bean soup, Sicilian chickpea soup)
- Grains: use this in place of water when cooking grains. I used this stock to cook brown rice and I really liked the tomato flavor. I didn’t do this, but thought afterwards it would make a great version of Mexican rice. You could also use it to cook millet or quinoa.
- Pasta: I have made a baked orzo dish before that I think this would work really in.
- Beans: this stock could be used to cook beans as well. You may have heard that beans cooked in an acidic liquid don’t get soft, which is true, but it would need to be very acidic (see the end of this article).
Experiment and let me know how you use it!
"Ugly Tomato" Tomato Stock
Heat oil in a medium saucepan and over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and anchovy paste and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and pour liquid through a fine mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Transfer to several small air-tight container (I use canning jars) and cool to room temperature. Transfer to the refrigerator if you plan to use within a few days; otherwise, store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
I call for anchovy paste only because that is what I had on hand. You can substitute a couple minced whole anchovies or leave them out all together if you prefer.