Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Prepper's Pantry: the Tomato

In a previous article I discussed the apple, so it seems only proper to discuss its unrelated cousin the poisonous love apple, also known as the tomato.

Tomatoes are actually a fruit (specifically a berry) and not a vegetable, although the United States Supreme Court ruled otherwise in 1893 for taxation purposes. Based on culinary usage, tomatoes generally fall under the vegetable umbrella as well: tomatoes are used raw, in soups and stews, as well as in sauces and glazes.

Coming from both Southern Italian and Eastern European ancestry, tomatoes always played a large part in family dishes.

Pot Roast
Tomatoes give the gravy in my mother’s traditional Pot Roast recipe  its familiar reddish brown color, as well as a richness of flavor that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

The pot roast should be cooked a day or two before eating.


  • Brisket of Beef (½ lb per person)
  • 3 Onions
  • 1 Green or Red Pepper
  • 5 Celery Stalks + Leaves
  • 4 Plum Tomatoes
  • 3 Large Carrots
  • Garlic to taste

  1. Brown meat on all sides. If there is not much fat on the meat, put a bit of oil in the pot. Brown covered.
  2. Add cut up veggies and steam until soft, about 3/4 hour. Add salt and pepper.
  3. Add water to cover. Cook covered for about 2 hours.
  4. Remove meat, wrap in foil, and refrigerate.
  5. Remove as much fat from the top of veggies and liquid as possible.
  6. Pour remaining juices and veggies into food processor or blender and process until all veggies are pulverized and gravy is smooth.
  7. Refrigerate.
  8. When ready to eat, put some of gravy into roasting pan, add sliced pot roast and heat in oven being careful not to "evaporate" the gravy in the pan. Heat the remaining gravy in a pot.

While this recipe calls for fresh tomatoes, canned may also be used.

Tomato Sauce
My family's tomato sauce has been handed down from generation to generation since long before they left Italy or Sicily, changing slightly after each handoff. Because of the cooking time requirement, I make a large batch in a 16-quart stock pot. This recipe makes 12-14 quart canning jars of sauce, and can be frozen or hot water canned.

Even more so than with most family recipes, this one is very vague on quantities except for the garlic -- that, you measure that with your heart.


  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 Large yellow onions, diced
  • 2-3 Green peppers, diced
  • Garlic, crushed
  • 3 #10 cans of tomatoes
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried basil
  • Bay leaf
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Tomato paste (if needed)


  1. Drizzle a thin layer of olive oil in the bottom of the pot.
  2. Dice the onions and peppers, add them to the pot, and sauté over a medium heat until soft, stirring regularly. About five minutes.
  3. Crush the garlic and stir into the other veggies.
  4. Lower the heat and add the tomatoes.
  5. Cover the top with a layer of oregano and slightly less basil, a handful of crushed red pepper, and a few bay leaves.
  6. Mix thoroughly and let cook for 5 or 6 hours, stirring occasionally.
  7. When near the end of the cook time, check the texture. If it’s too thin, add a small can of tomato paste, stir thoroughly, and cook for another hour or so until the preferred consistency is reached.

Tomatoes can be eaten fresh off the vine, stored in the refrigerator for a week or two, cooked in any number of ways, as well as canned for preservation. Every grocery store has a variety of canned tomatoes available year round that are whole, diced, or crushed. Such a versatile and healthy ingredient deserves a place of pride in every prepper’s pantry.

Remember: Intelligence is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.

Erin says: Salsa is a tomato-based fruit salad, David. 

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