Overview:Tomatoes are a fruit (yes a fruit–although commonly referred to as a vegetable) These fruit are sweet and acidic used all over the world

Five heirloom tomatoes in red, orange, and purple sit on a wooden cutting board.
Heirloom tomatoes

Seed Starting: Tomatoes need lots of sunlight or growing lights. Start in damp seed starting mix, 2-3 seeds per pot, and ¼ inches deep. Start tomatoes about 8 weeks before your last frost date. This is right around Merrimack’s spring break. . Space your tomatoes 2 or more feet apart.

Growing Advice: Tomatoes need full sun and lots of moisture. If the soil is dry an inch down, offer them a good soak. Tomatoes are subject to blight, a fungal disease, so keep leaves off of the ground and water at the base of the plant (rather than spraying the leaves). Tomatoes often do well with a fence or equivalent to let the vines climb rather than droop or touch the ground

Recipe for Homemade Tomato Sauce

  • Start with 8-10 medium to large tomatoes (this will be a smaller batch of sauce) or 14 or more to make a larger batch. (Tomatoes on the vine or Roma tomatoes work best for me!)
  • Slice an “X” on the bottom of your tomatoes and bring them to a boil in a large pot.
  • When the skin of the tomato becomes loose or is coming off completely remove from boiling water and place in a bowl of ice water.
  • Remove all the skin and stem parts (the white parts) from tomatoes and crush. Crushing by hand is the original and best way but if you prefer you can use a potato masher or equivalent to break down the tomatoes!
  • When all the tomatoes are crushed to your preference (you can crush them or even blend them to pure liquid consistency or leave some chunks of tomatoes for texture) put back in pot and return to a simmer.
  • Add 4-6 cloves of garlic, a hefty sprinkle of salt and pepper, a 1/2 cup of olive oil (or to your liking), Italian seasonings of your liking (basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary, etc.), and minced onion (or a whole onion with the ends cut off, also marked with an “X” on both ends, not enough to cut through the whole onion, and remove from sauce when soft or if layers begin to peel)
  • Simmer until all ingredients are combined and sauce thickens in consistency (if desired some prefer a thin sauce and you can just combine ingredients and use sauce as desired!)
  • For Gravy you can add meat to your sauce; sausage, meatballs, beef cubes, etc. (pre-cooked)

Written by: Jackie Rosney