Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Preserving tomatoes

We planted a bunch of tomatoes in our pallet cold frames but so far except for one red tomato we only have green tomatoes. Since I use a lot of tomatoes I was hoping to grow a bunch and have some to preserve. I haven't been able to really switch to a mostly local diet this year or have my own yard for expanding the gardening. I was hoping to switch a few things that I use a lot this year. Luckily I heard that Bell's nursery sells the tomatoes that they can't sell at the grocery store for cosmetic reasons at 5 pounds for $5 at their store. I have now brought two 50 pound batches from Bell's nursery that I made into spaghetti sauce, salsa and diced tomatoes.

For the first batch I made an oven roasted tomato sauce and a tomato sauce with tomatoes that were just peeled. I used the rest of the tomatoes that were left for diced tomatoes. I peeled the tomatoes that were not roasted by boiling briefly until the skins crack and dipping in cold water for peeling. The oven roasted ones crack for easy peeling. For my second batch I made another roasted tomato sauce and a roasted salsa and diced the rest. Both sauces were tasty but the roasted sauce was more flavorful and less watery so I decided to roast the tomatoes from now on for sauces. I also used a local onion and some basil and parsley from the farmer;s market in the spaghetti sauce. The salsa had cilantro from the farmer's market. It was a lot of work but it gets me excited for when I hopefully have my own  mini homestead in my backyard where I hopefully will have lots of veggies to can and process.

50 pounds of tomatoes

Sliced in half sprinkled with olive oil and ready for the oven

The helpers peeling the oven roasted tomatoes

Boiled until the skins crack for easy peeling

A local farmer's market onion for the spaghetti sauce

I started  the sauce with the onion and garlic

I pulsed the tomatoes in the blender 3-4 times and added fresh herbs

Both sauces cooking from the first batch
The roasted sauce is on the top
Diced tomatoes peeled and seeded 

I canned everything using a pressure canner for 20 minutes. You don't have to use a pressure canner for tomatoes but it fits more cans and takes less time and has a better chance of preserving than the hot water bath so I used the pressure canner.

We got a tomato corer for the second batch and it saved lots of time

A really big tomato

Salsa in the blender with fresh local cilantro
I pulse 3-4 times

The baby wanted a tomato

The second batch ready for pressure canning
 Spaghetti sauce on the left front, diced tomatoes in the back and salsa to the right

Keeping the baby happy during the processing with wild berry smoothie

Entertaining themselves in a box

In a box with a cracker

It was a lot of work and very messy between the tomatoes and the children but it will be nice in the winter when we have yummy local goodness. 

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