Friday, October 08, 2010

Preserving the harvest....Tomatoes!

We ended up with a bumper crop of tomatoes this year, that is until the Late Blight got the vines. But I still managed to process just over 25 lbs of red yummy sweet fruit into both frozen chopped tomatoes, and canned stewed tomatoes.

I like to peal my tomatoes to have a nicer final product. To do this bring a pot of water to a boil, remove the green stems and leaves from the tomatoes, and with a sharp knife score a very shallow “x” in peel on the bottom of each tomato. Fill your clean kitchen sink with water and ice. Submerge 3-4 pieces of fruit at a time in the boiling water for 10-15 seconds until the edges of the “x” start to curl. Using a slotted spoon carefully move the tomatoes from the boiling water to the ice bath. Then using your hands peel the skin off each fruit. I do this to prep my harvest of tomatoes for both freezing AND canning. (This is the same boiling water technique as I used in the peaches. )

For freezing I rough chop the peeled tomatoes and pack them into quart sized ziptop bags that have the place on the front to write on. I label each bag with it's contents and the date prepared. Try to get as much air out of the bags as you can. You can even use a straw to suck out the last bit of air if you desire. Lay the bags flat in the freezer until frozen solid and then they stack very nicely upright. I like freezing them in smaller bags so that I can easily grab one to add to soup or sauce without having to thaw a whole gallon at a time.

The stewed tomatoes are as follows: 3 large onions, 2 large green peppers, 1 head of garlic and 1/4 cup of lemon juice per each 6 cups of tomatoes. Rough chop the vegetables and mince the garlic. Sauteed in olive oil until tender. Rough chop the peeled tomatoes and add them to a stock pot with the other ingredients. Then bring the whole thing to a rolling boil for 5 minutes and turn off the heat.

Follow the canning instructions for tomatoes for your type of canner. I use a water bath canner since this recipe is acidic enough. Clean, sterile, warm jars; filled with leaving 1 1/2" of head space; capped with lids that have been simmered in 180 degree water and sterile rings. Tip: use a magnetic tipped wand to help lift the lids out of the hot water to avoid burning your fingers. Processed in the water bath canner at a full roiling boil for 30 minutes, making sure at the jars are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Let cool on the counter and enjoy the "PING!" you hear as the lids seal. Make sure you store your canned goods in a cool dry place and always check the seals before using any home canned products! If you find any busted or popped seals toss out the whole jar.   

Here are just a few pints of the total of 10 quarts I made.

These are now ready for spaghetti sauce, swiss steak, soups, stews, and all manner of other amazing recipes!!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I wish we had so many ripe tomatoes. As it is we'll be making a lot of green enchilada sauce this year.