Ruthless 'Maters

I am not ruthless enough to be a good gardener.
If you garden, you know what I mean.
If you don’t? Well, listen up because people don’t talk about this very often. Gardening requires ruthlessness. And a lot of it too.

Of course, everybody knows the rewards of gardening are great. I mean, I am loving going out to my garden every afternoon to pick vegetables for dinner.

I come home, put on a t-shirt and head to the garden. In years past I’ve used a garden basket, but this year it’s pretty much been the hat or t-shirt method. The hat is obvious, I take it off and fill it up. 

The t-shirt method, on the other hand, is a very technical thing. You see, what you do is put on your favorite t-shirt, preferably a well-worn James Taylor concert t-shirt. Head to the garden and pick a vegetable, let’s say a ‘mater. Hold out the bottom of your t-shirt away from you with one hand and create a little hammock; then put that ‘mater right in there. Keep on picking until your shirt hammock won’t hold any more. I always buy large t-shirts so mine are just the right size to hold enough vegetables for us for dinner. In fact I’m thinking about inventing a gardening shirt with a little hook to go around your index finger and a bigger bottom in the front to hold more veggies. And of course, the image of James on it. What do you think?

But wait. That’s not the ruthlessness. That’s not the war. The ruthlessness involves things like………yellow grape tomatoes.
Now, raise your hand if you remember the song, “War! Uh! Yeah! What is good for? Absolutely nothing”
Been a few years for sure, but oh good! There are a few of you out there who know it.
(Here’s the you tube link, but ignore the comments. I’m so tired of the language on you tube comments. Why don’t they clean it up?! Pa-leeze…)
Now, here is my rendition:
“Yellow tomatoes, UH! Yeah! What are they good for? Absolutely nothing.”
Truly, I love and adore red tomatoes. Love. Bold LoveBOLD ALL CAPS LOVE.
I am happy when there is a line of them in my kitchen window ready to be savored.

This has been a great year for tomatoes for me. In fact, I think I’ll do a tomato week on my blog (, putting up some of the delicious ways I’m enjoying red tomatoes. And there are many! I made a tomato soup that knocked my socks off. It tasted NOTHING like canned tomato soup, which is the only kind I’d ever had before. They really shouldn’t even be called the same thing. And oh, the spaghetti sauce I made! So good! I’ve been having some seriously good RED tomato food.
But. The little yellow tomatoes? What are they good for? Does anyone know? Because I sure don’t.
And because I am not ruthless enough to pull up plants in my garden when I need to, I have wound up with about a ba-zillion pounds of little yellow tomatoes. Thinning plants has always been hard for me. I just can’t do it. Just ask my squash plants. They are over-crowded and wishing I would evict some residents. They complain about the density of their corner of the garden. (Not much different than what I complain about in my corner of the world.) “There’s not enough water and minerals in the soil. We don’t have enough room. We can’t even breathe. Yank some of us up already! Be ruthless!”
I plant a corner of basil. Well, survival of the fittest, ‘cause I don’t pull ANY perfectly good plants out of the ground.

I just don’t have the heart. I cannot thin. I know, I know, you don’t have to tell me. I already know. But, what can I say?
I think it’s the same reason I don’t kill bugs. Something soft in me. I don’t want to be responsible for the death of another living thing. Don’t want to unless it is absolutely required. Like a spider in my shower. Well, it’s going to have to die. War. But a spider out in the garage? Not so much; He’s okay. Live and let live.
But, yellow tomatoes. What about the yellow tomatoes!?
I planted yellow tomatoes on my porch a few years back. It was when we lived in the woods, back when I had to be a “container gardener” only because I had no sunny earth of my very own to plant upon. So I’m at the farmer’s market and an old woman there gives me a small potted plant when I bought some greens from her. She said, “Please, take it.” She told me that it was a yellow pear tomato and that I would love it. She said that it had come up as a volunteer and she just had to find it a good home. She was a cute old lady, with her little bonnet and apron. I felt like she was giving me something precious, how could I say no? I hadn’t experienced yellow tomatoes before; so, sure, I’ll take it. It sounded kinda cool.
But as I mentioned, sunny space was a VERY limited and precious thing on my back porch. (Our yard was full of mature trees and the covenants specifically prohibited taking down mature trees.) I made room; I found a spot for this tiny gifted yellow pear tomato.
It was a profuse grower. Huge in no time. And then they came. Beautifully shaped tomatoes appeared. In fact, one of my all time favorite photographs is of a bundle of those pretty little tomatoes. Yay, I found it. I love this picture, with the little curly caps each tomato wears. And don’t you love the shape? Plus, by the way, you can see the challenges of my gardening–you see all those woods in the background, right? Ugh.

But. That plant produced and produced and produced.
I had a glut of yellow tomatoes. And that is when I first started singing the War, UH, What is It Good For? Song about yellow tomatoes. Because. Truly. What ARE they good for? I never could quite identify their useful purpose in life. A few tossed in a salad is excellent, but that was about it. These plants produce 100’s, way more than one can eat tossed into a salad. I went crazy with these yellow tomatoes.
Okay, so fast foward to this year. I’ve got my own patch of earth. And my daughter and I went seed shopping this past spring. She picked out the tomato seeds because of their name: Jelly Beans. I looked at the packet, hmmmm, red and yellow tomatoes. It looked to me like they were all the same stem, from the same plant. Well, okay, that does sound interesting. And the words on the pack say something about kids love them.

So we planted them in little peat pots in the kitchen window. Then transplanted them in the garden. And bad news. Every single jelly bean tomato plant was yellow. NO RED.
And honey-bunnies, these are profuse producers. Profuse! More even than the little yellow pear tomato plant I got from the lady at the farmer’s market that grew in the shade on my deck. So, really! Truly! I should have pulled theseup when I saw we had only the yellow variety. BUT NO. 

And now I have tons of little yellow tomatoes that I don’t know what to do with.
I did a search just now. Nope, no body in the whole-wide-world-wide-web really knows what to do with all little yellow tomatoes you wind up with. Although I did find this. Check out this website for yellow tomatoes. Now, that’s alarming. Do you see all those yellow tomato varieties? (Tomato Bob, what in the world do you do with all those yellow tomatoes?!)

Sure, I see recipes for large tomatoes that you peel and chop, but small ones with the peels on?

So I’m making them up. I opened up a can of cannellini Beans and rinsed them well. Cut some of those Little Yellow Tomatoes in half. Added olive oil, chopped green onions, chopped basil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Oh, and some salt and pepper. Yum. Totally yum.

What else can I do with little yellow tomatoes? Any ideas?
And hey, if you see me coming your way, waving you down with a bag in my hands? Well, you better run in the other direction unless you want some little yellow tomatoes.
Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!
Lots of love, Rebekah, The City Farmgirl

  1. Rebekah you crack me up!!!! We did not plant any yellow tomatoes this year but the tomato plants we thought were going to die and need replaced lived, I think we have close to 40 because we added some in other spots to replace the ones we thought would die but would not pull them out until they were dead. Not dead. Then up in the raspberry garden where we use to plant some tomatoes we have probably another half a dozen that came up on their own. Looks like they may all be cherry or grape tomatoes. Only two little tomatoes are red so far but it is August now and August is tomato month here. I have been remembering my mother use to make a tomato jelly but she did not skin them she cooked them down then ran them through a sieve that had a crank type handle on it. I am thinking I my buy one just in case this year. Wonder if you could do something like that with your yellow tomatoes. I think they might make a pretty jelly? Wedding has came and gone. It was a success. Started posting about it today. Your all going to have me checking in with you more often. I will probably just become a bug I have been gone so long. Happy Farmgirl days!

  2. Diane Van Horn says:

    I had those tomatoes last year. I did what Brenda’s Mother used to do. I cooked them until their skins cracked and ran them through a hand crank seize. I then put the puree into my red sauce and my stewed tomatoes. They do add some interesting flavor to the mix. Needless to say, I did not grow them this year. You can also go to a shopping center and look for unlocked cars and then throw a bag of the little buggers on the front seats! I used to do this with zuchini.

  3. Adrienne says:

    Rebekah, I live in an apartment in San Francisco and we have at least a dozen farmers markets scattered around for every day of the week. I’m disabled and have a difficult time walking around so I don’t go to them as often as I would like.
    I’m a vegetarian and if I lived closer to you, I would take all those lovely yellow tomatoes off your hands. Since I can’t, here are some suggestions:
    Do the same as you did with the cannellini beans except pour the tomato mixture over some angel hair pasta.
    Can them and use them in a big pot of vegetable soup.
    Blanch them and put them in the freezer for later.
    Take some to the local elementary school to add to their lunch menu.
    Take some to a nursing home or shelter: they really appreciate fresh veggies and fruit.

  4. cheryl patton says:

    LOVE yellow tomatoes! I grow big ones and little ones. A great way to use the small ones such as the pears and cherry varieties are to dehydrate them, pack them in snack size zip lock bags and store in the refrigerator.If you poke a hole in the skin with a toothpick before you place on the dehydrator, they will dry better or if they are large, you can slice in half. The flavor concentrates as they dry and they make a delicious,chewy snack or add to winter soups or casseroles. I also pack a few jars of the dried tomatoes with lemon basil and top with olive oil and store in the refrigerator for later use. YUM.I make a golden chili sauce using large yellow heirloom tomatoes every year.Try it, you’ll like it!

  5. Patty Sauter says:

    I made jam with these although I used red and yellow. Boil the tomatoes (whole) in water with sugar and lemon peel and I added lemon thyme. Cook till thickened, cool and keep a jar in the fridge. I serve with meatloaf or grilled meats, also makes a nice sweet and sour sauce.

  6. Jennie Ragsdale says:

    We have one plant that produces quite a few. We also have a 3 year old that knows where the yellow tomotoes are on teh counter and he will consume them like candy. Wish we had your problem. The other children get mad when they go to snack on one and their younger brother has already got them. Just love to read your blog.

  7. Dianne Beach says:

    OMG I LOVE these so much!!!!!!!!! We don’t get them here in SW florida. They are so sweet. I just put them in a bowl and snack on them. Lately I have been roasting little colored peppers and grapes tomatoes. Then I add herbs and some olive oil and put them in the food processor and then over pasta with parmesan. Yum. I love your stories and I am a big James Taylor fan.

  8. Cindy says:

    Hey Rebekah,

    I always fill up a baggie and send them with my husband to work for a snack. He shares them with the guys….every day 🙂

    Cindy Bee

  9. Brenda says:

    love those tomatoes. you can make fresh salsa and we like to eat them just fresh from the garden. thanks for making me smile.

  10. Rebekah, I wonder if you couldn’t pick them while green right before they turn and can them as green tomato relish, they seem like they would be the perfect size for cutting in half for that. Goes great in the winter with fried fish and pinto beans and cornbread.

  11. Cindy says:

    My Mom always told me that they are less acidic than the red types of tomatoes. She loves them, as do we. We put them in salads whole and in pasta salads. I think the best way to eat any small tomato is, washed with salt and whole!! Yummy.

  12. Judith says:

    Regarding yellow tomatoes, aren’t they lower in acid than the red? Recall reading an article about their lower acidic properties and mentioned this to my mother who loves red tomatoes. (She stopped eating red tomatoes or anything with red tomatoes because she could not "digest them".) Interestingly, Mom can eat the yellow variety with no problem. By the way, all of the ideas submitted read so well! I was not able to do my garden dance this year but will definitely reference some of the suggestions when I visit my weekly neighborhood farmer’s market. Thanks!

  13. Rebekah, I laughed the whole time I read this. You are quite funny! And I really like the salad you made with the yellow tomatoes. Very happy to come across your blog. I will be back.

  14. MaryFrantic says:

    Absolutely CANNOT get enough of these tomatoes. There is NO SUCH a thing as too many tomatoes. The deer have eaten all my plants so far this year (and I didn’t know deer ate tomato plants?)…I am SO envious that you have an overload! I’m sure there are friends out there freakin’ out wanting tomatoes and you just don’t know it. We take "extras" to church and to club meetings and they are all gone at the end of the meeting.

  15. Adrienne says:

    In today’s San Francisco Chronicle:

    You might find some ideas you and your family would enjoy.

  16. all8garden says:

    For excess tomatoes I slice them in half, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with course salt and a dash of pepper or two. Place cut side up on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet for ease of clean up. Roast in a low oven until the tomatoes are super soft. Some browning is okay. After roasting, I run them through my Foley food mill and freeze in quart bags. Use in any recipe requiring a lovely, warm tomato sauce; spaghetti, lasagna, eggplant parmesan, etc. Wish I had the same problem as you. My family loves this as sauce.

  17. Sara says:

    I got a bunch of these also from a farmers market over the summer. One of my favorite things to do with them was to slice them, drizzle them with balsamic vinegar and toss with chopped basil and put them in a grilled cheese sandwich.

  18. lisab says:

    So funny 🙂 My yellow tomatoes actually did not do good this year and the red ones won out . But i enjoy the bright colors of the yellow . I keep them in one spot by my fence

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