I found a recipe for Cherry Tomatoes in Cream in The Southern Junior League Cookbook, a compilation of Southern recipes collected during the 60s and 70s which I shared on the Pastry Sampler blog. I was flipping through the cookbook (a recent used book find) and the combination of tomatoes with cream and sugar brought back fond memories of me as a kid and my grandmother making this dish.
It made me wonder if this was just some concoction she created one day marrying different things in her kitchen after a day in the garden. You know, bringing back beautiful fully ripe tomatoes in the garden and thinking, ‘Yes, tomatoes with cream and sugar sounds nice today.’. Or if this was actually a thing, a treat from the garden way back when.
Doing simple online searches really brings back nothing and none of my old cookbooks brings me any results, although you will find farm blogs with posts of this heavenly garden treat. And if the life and times of Laura Ingalls Wilder is any indication of what people actually ate during that time period, then it was most certainly something that, if not common, was an occasional treat at the dinner table.
And it is not just a Southern or Midwestern treat – I was born and raised in Oregon, and so was she. So the treat hails from the Pacific Northwest, too. Who knows, maybe this is just a way for gardeners to use up all their tomatoes because like zucchini, the tomato growing season sometimes overstays its welcome. 🙂 You have to get creative when you have an overstock of a garden fruit or vegetable.
Two separate passages from Laura Ingalls Wilder: Little Town on the Prairie (1941):
There were little new potatoes for dinner, creamed with green peas, and there were string beans and green onions. And by every plate was a saucer full of sliced tomatoes, to be eaten with sugar and cream.
Pa ate the last spoonful of pink, sugary cream from his saucer of tomatoes, and drank his tea. Dinner was over.
My grandmother served it as an occasional treat. Something like a sweet snack, and the resulting pink cream in the bowl that was left over when the tomatoes were eaten was always my favorite. And it was truly heaven when you soaked fresh homemade bread into it. My kids do not appreciate my memories lol because I haven’t yet got them to try it. To them, tomatoes are purely a vegetable even though scientifically they are a fruit.
Here is a simple recipe you can try. Just wing the ingredients to your taste – and if you don’t have a little garden in your backyard make sure you source the best organic and vine ripened tomatoes you can find. You’ll thank yourself later when you are treating yourself to the recipe.
Sweet Tomatoes with Cream and Sugar
Use as much sugar and cream as you want here. It's a special summertime treat for you and your family.
- Fresh, fully ripened tomatoes
- Heavy or light cream, as you prefer
- Granulated sugar
- Rinse and pat dry tomatoes. Slice into thick slices and place in a shallow dish.
- Sprinkle with sugar as desired, and top with cream.