Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Tomato, 115 Ways.

Today I want to give you the third and final (for the time being) story on George Washington Carver. We have glimpsed at his ideas on cow peas and sweet potato this week, and in a post some time ago I included a couple of recipes from one of his most famous works, a bulletin called How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption.

Now it is the turn of that most useful of fruits (botanically-speaking) or vegetables (culinarily-speaking) – the tomato. Carver's bulletin on this topic was originally published in 1918, and called How to Grow the Tomato and 115 Ways to Prepare it for the Table. The bulletin was re-issued in 1938, and the recipes I give you today are from this edition.

Carver starts off by outlining the advantages of the tomato:

But few people realize what an important vegetable the tomato is. While, it is true that chemical analysis does not place it very high in the nutritive scale, if viewed from this angle alone its real value will be greatly underestimated.
For the reasons which follow, every normal person should make the tomato a very prominent part of the weekly diet:

1.      It is a vegetable that is easily grown.
2.      It yields well and keeps for a long time.
3.      It usually brings a fair price, because nearly everyone likes tomatoes.
4.      It contains distinct medicinal virtues (which are recognized by many authoritative books on household remedies), as “vegetable calomel.”
5.      It is both a relish and an appetizer as well as a food.
6.      Our soils can be made to bring enormous yields of tomatoes, superior in look, taste, and general appearance.
7.      They can be prepared in so many delicious ways that one can eat them every day in the week and not get tired of them.
8.      The old vines contain splendid dye-stuffs, which could be utilized as a by-product for dying fabrics of various kinds.
9.      There are so many sizes, colors and varieties that, for garnishings, fancy soups, and especially fine decorative table effects, they are almost indispensable.
10.  With a little intelligent effort fresh tomatoes can be produced in this locality [Alabama] almost the year round.

Carver then explains in great detail how to cultivate the tomato, before moving on to the recipes. I have chosen a few of the rather more unusual ideas for you today.

Take a bushel of green and half-ripe tomatoes (the plum or fig tomatoes are preferable); wash clean; pack in big jar or tub; use 5 lbs. fine salt, 1/2 lb. whole mixed spices; weight down and cover with clear cold water. In two weeks they are fit to use, and will keep for months if kept under the pickle. They are used without further fixing.
Prepare enough nice, ripe tomatoes to make one quart when stewed; cook with them one small onion, a few cloves, and two tablespoons of sugar; cook thoroughly; strain through a sieve; season to taste with salt, and pepper. To one-fourth cupful of butter, bubbling hot, add one-half cupful of corn starch; to this add the tomatoes you have already prepared with onion, cloves, and sugar, stirring them in gradually: cook about three minutes or until blended; then add one egg slightly beaten. Put this in. a shallow buttered tin, and when cool cut into squares; roll in bread crumbs, egg, and then crumbs again, and fry in deep fat; drain before serving.
Cook one cup of sugar, one cup of strained tomato juice, and the juice of half a lemon to a thick syrup; pour the mixture slowly over the stiffly-beaten white of 1 egg; serve at once or chill as desired.

Carver finishes by saying “In the preparation of this bulletin I have used freely the work of many of the very best culinary experts, rearranging in some instances to suit our particular conditions. From every source taken, I wish to give my sincere thanks.”


Les said...

Would tomato fluff be sweet or sour? It's an interesting idea. Thank you for the interesting recipes and articles on Carver.

Shay said...

The tomato fluff would be a mouth-pucker-er, for sure.

The Old Foodie said...

I think with a cup of sugar to a cup of juice it would have been almost like tomato jam, wouldnt it?