We are finally scoring bowls of cherry to walnut sized tomatoes everyday. We love them and gobble hoards of them up in the garden. While I’m really just happy they are ripening at all, we aren’t getting enough for any heavy-duty preserving.
Annette at Sustainable Eats knows how to get things done. Organizing large-scale organic produce buys from eastern Washington farmers is just one of the zillion things she does. I secretly think Annette is 4 regular people. I mean check this out. And she just wrote a book (that I can’t wait to get my hands on). Has chickens. Goats. Kids. Oh, and in the midst of all this she moved. My head hurts thinking about it.
Anyway, I suddenly had 80 of tomatoes (in addition to the 3rd round of plum picking) and 5 pounds of eggplant. Out of counterspace, against the clock and home alone, I got down to business. I was my own assembly line. I processed for about 10 hours straight that first day. Which, incidentally, if you are considering doing I would like to suggest footwear. Supportive, cushy footwear. By no means should you attempt this barefoot. Your heels will never, ever forgive you.
What to do with all those tomatoes? Besides several BLT’s (heavy on the T) here is what I did: Dehydrate, Slow Roast, Sauce, Ketchup, Jam, Soup and Whole. So, yeah, basically a bit of everything. At the same time. It is how I roll. Or how I roll now because canning this many tomatoes with an almost 4-year-old is impossible. Or how I roll when it is hot: get it done in the shortest amount of time possible and cool the house down stat.
Erica at Northwest Edible recently wrote about advice she received from her mom: “Get your machines working for you!” Well, let me tell you, I had them all going!
I love the dehydrator. I just got it this summer and am in love. Tomatoes, sliced in half, plopped on tray, plug it in and ignore for a long time.
And roasting. Sliced in half, drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. And leave them in the oven at 200°F-ish for a long time. Overnight. Or all day.
Why both roast and dehydrate? They taste a bit different. The dehydrated tomatoes are like pops of intense tomato. I get them drier that I do the roasted tomatoes. I don’t eat them plain but use them in things. Roasting brings out a caramelized sweetness to the tomato that make it impossible to stop eating straight up. I like roasted best but it is nice to have both on hand.
I freeze both in bags or jars.
Chopping for jam
Tomato Jam you say? Not quite sure? Oh my goodness. Do it. This is a new one for me this year and is perhaps the tastiest thing I’ve ever canned. And the color of the finished product is stunning. Somehow it looks like rubies. It is so good I made a second batch tonight. Marisa at Food in Jars might just have changed my life with this one.
A favorite from last year is Oh, Briggsy’s Pizza Sauce. Stuff is fantastic. I follow the recipe except I don’t can mine. I put it in bags and freeze it. I don’t know why. It feels easier somehow. And I have a full freezer, so why not?
The lovely Ladyfriend bought me a food mill (OXO good grips) last year and the sauce was my first foray into food mill love. Where has this been all my life? Yep, it rocks. No one is paying me to say that. (But, you know, OXO, if you are out there, I totally wouldn’t turn it down.) The thing is amazing.
Another favorite from last year was What Julia Ate’s Ketchup. And a post that revolutionized all future blanching. Ice packs people! Down with ice cubes! Up with packs! And again, I love my food mill. Now it looks like regular ketchup texture! More food mill love!
I made some of Kaela at Local Kitchen’s Roasted Tomato & Eggplant Soup. Yum! It was really good (and I’m a sucker for anything with chickpeas) and I froze the leftovers, so it is kind of preserving. While I made that I also roasted up all the rest of the eggplant I got and froze that too. I wanted to make some Parsi Eggplant Pickle but I forgot! I know! Grr. I’m grumpy at myself about that too.
And I did a bunch of whole, blanched paste tomatoes.