Friday, September 6, 2013

Tomato Lessons. And A Tip For Making A Quick Sauce.

When I planted 20 or so tomato plants, I had visions of more than just endless tomato sandwiches.  I planned to make tomato sauce, tomato jam, tomato ketchup and tomato paste to last me until the following year.  All with my own home-grown tomatoes that include all of the flavor you just can't buy in a grocery store.

But then we had weird weather and a very late start to tomatoes.  Like, they are a month behind when they normally start to fruit up here.  And then I got a wicked case of blight.  So my harvest, while plenty for what I really need, is about 25% of what I expected to get.  I just keep reminding myself of all the lessons I'm learning this year.

I won't be giving jars of tomato sauce away.  But that's OK.  I'm not sure anyone really wanted it to begin with.  Ha.  Instead, I will just make what I can as the tomatoes trickle in.  To date, I've made six quarts, one pint and two half pints.  Plus I've made a batch of tomato jam, my new obsession that I will share shortly,  So it's not all bad.  Just not quite what I expected.  Like everything else in life, I suppose!


I have a tip!

I read 4 million recipes on canning tomato sauce before I just did my own thing.  Because every recipe calls for peeling and seeing the tomatoes.  If I had a food mill, that would be a cinch.  But I don't yet own one so my option was to remove the peels by hand.  And I've done that every time I've made and canned salsa.  So I know how easy it is.  But it's also time consuming for the amount (5-10 lbs at one time) of tomatoes I was using.  Since the sauce is really just for my own use, I just rough chopped the tomatoes, skins, seeds and all.  I let it simmer for hours and hours and then more hours for the juice to reduce.  And then, I stuck my immersion blender in the pot and pureed it.  You can't even tell the peel is now part of the sauce.  You can tell some seeds are there but it doesn't bother me one bit.  This step saved me HOURS of time taking the skin off those tomatoes.  So I can live with a few visible seeds.

Oh and because my tomatoes are heirlooms in a variety of colors, my sauce isn't super dark red.  It's more of a pinkish-orange.  I love it!  Reminds me of how the tomatoes started out this summer!

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