On Saturday my folks turned up with a box of tomatoes, about 15 black peppers (more on those another day), a strimmer, and plenty of jibes about general laziness in the allotment. The jibes stopped when they went down there and saw the general epic-ness that is now our veg patch. The cosmos are better than my mother’s! Though I am still looking after my tomatoes incorrectly (they need thinning) and must get rid of the perennial weeds (*cough* fat chance). I should add here my mother is to gardening what Mary Berry is to cherry cake.

Whilst Dad wandered off to talk Worcestershire to unsuspecting Brummies, I wondered what to do with those tomatoes. To me, the tomato glut marks the turn from summer to autumn. It’s time to get preserving. Which means one thing: passata.

Same technique as every year: slice in half around their equators, roast for about an hour, push through a sieve, and that’s it. I freeze mine ready for chillies, bolognese, ragu, stews, and so on.


About half of what I was given. Each of these is the size of a navel orange.


Halved, drizzled with oil, ready for roasting.


An hour and a bit later…


An hour or so later – passata!


This year’s passata is great stuff – rich and thick, not too watery.

Speaking of autumn, last night’s dinner was short beef rib braised in red wine and herbs, served with roasted new potatoes, roasted onions and allotment veg (greens, beans etc). To follow, damson crumble. What could be more autumnal than that?

This evening I dutifully thinned out the Grange Hill tomatoes, did another harvest of beans, Eton tomatoes and lettuce. Pulled out the last of the summer lettuce, now crisp from heat. Had to hack off a sunflower head that had been strangled by the straggling borlotti shoots, as together they were making a wind barrier that was threatening to bring the whole lot down. Then dodging a torrential downpour, started off the autumn lettuce ready for planting out in a few weeks time.

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