Sunday, 23 January 2011

Home-grown canon balls anyone?

Home grown and frozen tomatoes, hard like little red canon balls
Today has been lovely - a bit cold and windy but it was sunny. My spirits were lifted when I grabbed a bag of tomatoes from the freezer. You heard me right - the freezer - my little scarlet canon balls. Now my family don't all like fresh tomatoes, unfortunately, so for years I didn't grow them, then I had a brainwave, we do like alot of food with tomatoes in them (spaghetti, chilli, pizza).  Why not grow them purely for cooking? Brilliant!! Now I don't always have brilliant brain waves but this one I was quite chuffed with.

I grew the tomatoes to try to cut down on our food shopping - by freezing them I can use them through the year.  I don't do faffing - I'm too busy (no peeling, no chopping, no deskin-ing, no putting in vinegar, or brine) I only freeze them - so I do nothing with the tomatoes except grow them and as they ripen I lob them into the freezer - I've an old cardboard box in the freezer which I put the tomatoes into - they freeze and thats it. They don't stick together - they turn into canon balls very quickly. My spirits dropped when I discovered we've used the last bag (OH NO!!!!) this is about right as we've grown enough for about half of the year. On the windowsill of the house here, no greenhouse, just the windowsill. Ace eh? If I can do it, anyone can!

These in the bag were the last of the tomato canon balls from the bottom of the box.  I do make my own sauces etc and freeze them when I've time, but in the summer when I'm trying to keep on top of life, watering and the universe in general - picking stuff and lobbing it into the freezer is often all I can manage. I'm busy and pretty lazy!!

I don't have much of a garden yet so these were all grown on the windowsill of the living room in window boxes. I grew 10 window boxes of tomatoes, which was great as this gave me alot of tomatoes. Amazing what you can do in a window box or just in a pot. Even with no garden, we've grown a bit of food - marevellous eh!!

The tomatoes are used straight from the freezer, skins and all - straight into a pot for sauce. I love the fact that they come out of the freezer all red and then begin to frost up as they begin to defrost!
Frozen tomato canon ball heaven
I often have a few green left when I'm at the end of the season - and I freeze them too to mix in with the reds - I think they are all used up - which is more important than a green/red tomato.  If you've ever thought, I'd like to grow some of that but I'll have a surplass - its often alot easier to deal with the surplus than you maybe think. My family don't like chutney or fresh tomatoes - but I reckon I get at least the equivilent to 3-4 cans of chopped tomatoes out of a tomato plant if I freeze them. That saves tins, which saves recycling, which saves me time.

Eventually this will be the equivilent of 3-4 tins of tomatoes
Local grown, no mileage to get them home from the supermarket - no chemicals, a very 'untravelled tomato'. Makes amazing sauces and family love it. Packet of seeds have 20 seeds in for £2 - if I grew all twenty - that would be about  the same as 80 tins of tomatoes - for £2  + compost (3ltr pot/60ltr compost for all the pots ) = £5. This is a total cost £7 and a bit of effort (This is about equivilent to 80 tins of tomatoes @ 33p a tin = £23.40).  We're not talking anything but money spent here! The sun in the windowsill came free and they make decent looking house plants if you grow the bushier ones (less faffing). I put 4-5 tomatoes in each window box and made sure they were always watered. Not too hard, even for just a pot/box its not alot of effort and almost no real skill involved - good compost and water. Just don't forget the water!

I think I use about 150 tins of tomatoes in a year  (2-3 tins a week normally @ 33p a tin for the cheapest)-  (roughly cost - £49.50) - so I've reduced my tomato tin bill (£23.40 (cost of tinned tomatoes) - £7 (compost and seeds) = 16.40 by growing a few plants on the window sill and freezing the tomatoes. (ROUGHLY!). Even if I only grew one plant - it would have reduced my tinned consumption. One less tin, all adds up doesn't it even if its only one.

Trying to save the planet one little red canon ball at a time. We all have start somewhere!


  1. Amazing! Great approach, dealing with surplus in a way that suits you rather than be put off growing something. Today I was looking through the selection of seeds I've amassed in the last couple of weeks. Some were freebies and not my choice and I was thinking, hmm, should I bother? I found myself listing the uses I could put them too - gifts, swaps, sales, mixing with other veg in pickles/chutneys - I got quite enthusiastic!
    p.s. I have several varieties of tomato seeds, wondering about tom feed, not chemical of course.

  2. What a great idea, We ended up fed up (literally) with toms last year as I seemed to be constantly cooking up batches of sauce for the freezer - this is a much more practical idea - Im definitely doing this this year - thanks.

  3. Pamela- me too! I am put off by alot of prepping and preparing which quite frankly you can do without. Great that you're inspired. swaps/sales etc - I'm planning on selling my spare plants to hopefully pay for my years compost costs.

    Fertilising tomatoes

    Comfrey tea a good organic fertiliser
    Good comfrey explaination here:

    One plant will grpw for you and last for a long time! The bees love this plant too - so you get a lot of benefit from it

    or seaweed extract too

    Levington plant food - a seawood good one - but many out there

    Wormery juice a good one too - the bi-product of a wormery brilliant fertiliser for many plants.

  4. Freerangegirl - me too - by doing the 'canon' method - I can cook when I need and batch cook when I've time - we all win.

    Growing your own food can be very time heavy - making even a wee change made me able to do more.

    I hope it might help you too!

    I do alot of my veg the lazy/no effort way.

    I want to be in the garden growing - and not feel bad if I don't have time to do everything!

  5. Thanks for your advice! Very good:)
    I'll check these out soon.

  6. Excellent idea. I did read up about putting whole tomayes into the freezer and the comments were not very positive. At the end of the day I suppose it depends on what you want to do with them.
    We always grow too many and they all ripen at the same time. My freezer id full of tomato sauce.
    I think I will try your idea this year - much much easier
    PS I loved your last post but did not get time to reply. I love to read all your posts they are funny and interesting and you have given me ideas for veggies this year

  7. Hey there thank you

    In my normal good life lab style - I tried one - then tried a couple found that they didnt freeze together. Then decided it was the way forward and have just added to my tomato box ever since. I've been doing it like this for 3 years now - sauces taste great. You can't use them for anything else as they break down too much and are mush in a ball when you defrost them.

    On the other hand, that means you don't need to chop or prepare them. The skins from what I've read are good fibre for us all.

    Thank you sue - always nice to hear - don't expect folk to comment much. The blog was always a way of me to regain confidence with writing again - which it has!

    Pamela I wish you goodluck if you give it a go.

    This also means of course if I see reduced tomatoes at the supermarket I buy them and chuck them into the freezer to make sauce whenever I need.


  8. I had no idea you could do this with tomatoes - makes me feel a little better at having ordered so many different types of tomato seed ;-) I am always learning stuff from you!

  9. I do the same thing with my tomatoes too. I can't bear to buy tomatoes, lettuce or greens anymore as I can grow better ones cheaper! I like how you worked out the cost. I'm impressed you did this much with window boxes. Love your blog BTW. I'll be following it now...

  10. Hooray another peep that froze them too!!

    Welcome Byddi - nice to hear from you!

    Janet I'm glad you can try it too!