Wednesday, September 19, 2012

preserving madness pt 2. - 30 lbs of tomatoes and a weekend of awakening

I promised you last week I would tell you what I did with my almost 30 lbs of tomatoes, and perhaps a little bit about my weekend away at Harvest Festival, my favourite event of the year! Since I could actually write much more than a little bit about Harvest, and still need to collect my thoughts about that amazing experience, I'll stick to the tomatoes for now. Just know that I have returned feeling refocused, reconnected to the universe and my true being, and recommitted to figuring out how to maintain (and to helping others cultivate) these feelings throughout the year.

For the basic whole and crushed tomatoes, I followed the guidelines in my Bernadin Complete Guide to Home Canning. The roasted and pickled recipes I found here: Five ways to use large tomatoes, at Food in Jars, and the link from there to her "In a Pickle" series on Serious Eats.

9 lbs = 4.5 quarts of peeled whole tomatoes - two of these didn't seal, so I put them in the fridge and I'm making sauce with them now. I was planning on just freezing the sauce, but I may can the results instead, due to lack of freezer space, and I'm finally going to deal with the beets I got last weekend in St Jacobs, so I can just put the tomato sauce in the canner with those. The sauce is just 1 small minced onion, 1 chopped garlic clove, 2 quarts tomatoes, simmered until reduced to your liking. Add salt, if you like, after reducing, then can as you would regular crushed tomatoes.

10 lbs = 6 pints of crushed tomatoes - I decided to try doing "crushed" tomatoes because of the float and siphoning that happens with whole tomatoes. I will use them for cooking anyway, and I didn't crush them all that much, so they are still quite chunky with larger pieces. I figured that the cooking beforehand would remove more air from the tomatoes, resulting in less float and siphoning. It also meant I could fit more into each jar, so I used pints rather than quart jars. I think using quarts in my stockpot contributes to the problems I have with sealing, as its hard to keep 3 inches of hard boiling water covering the quart jars for a full 85 minutes. The crushed tomato method is a little more time consuming, because you have to chop all the tomatoes, doing so bit by bit as you add them to a pot 2 cups or so at a time. This is to maintain a boil in order to prevent the pectin from breaking down, which is what contributes to separation of fruit and liquid after they are in the jars.

6 lbs = ~3 cups slow roasted in the oven for 10-12 hours at 225 degrees celsius. These are delicious to just snack on. I put half in the freezer immediately, half in the fridge to use for omelets, salad, pasta for the week, then threw what was left after in the freezer. I'd love to make more of these as they are AMAZING. You can do the same method with cherry or grape tomatoes, for less time.

3.5 lbs = 1 quart and 2 pints pickled - the quart went in the fridge, the 2 pints were boiling water canned. I also did a quart of pickled grape tomatoes for the fridge. I preferred the brine from this recipe so I used that (with less sugar) for the second batch of pickled romas that went on the shelf.

Now, where can I find another 30 lbs of tomatoes?! I still would love to make some ketchup and tomato jam...and more slow roasted tomatoes to keep in the fridge packed in oil...and perhaps just a few more jars of plain crushed....and maybe a bit more salsa!

**update! went to the farmers market today, and a new, lovely man in my life helped me carry half a bushel of tomatoes home. Two sheet pans are current slow-roasting in the oven, the rest will have to wait a few days, as its back to work for me tomorrow. We also made fresh pasta tonight, with the sauce I made yesterday, and some sausage from a small butcher down the street from my parents place.

new score!

and just a little harvest festival preview:

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