Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes

The Romanticism of the tomato processing period (if you could ever call it that) is over for me. The freezer is well stocked, the tomatoes are starting to peter out, and the kitchen looks like a massacre took place there- there are tomato seeds everywhere. If you have a two year old who likes to alternately squish tomatoes and spray you with the hose on the sink 'help' and like a neat kitchen (or at least a floor that isn't covered with globs of tomato pulp), I don't recommend extended time tomato processing.

At any rate- as I said the freezer is stocked- so I thought I'd run down all the things I've been making with our bounty, Sauce (for pizza and pasta), Salsa, Crushed tomatoes, and Juice.  The sauce has been super easy- just chop the tomatoes- lightly seed and remove cores, then roast at 350 with some garlic cloves for about an hour- then blend in a food processor.Then freeze or can, so easy.

The crushed tomatoes are actually the first step in making salsa- just peel tomatoes (by blanching in boiling water for one minute- then slipping the skins off under cold water), then squish them into a bowl (this is the fun part- but it's messy) and then crush up the more solid bits of tomato flesh- and freeze in Ziploc bags. I like to freeze them in 2 cup portions, because that's about the size of a can- lay the Ziplocs flat in the freezer- and then you'll be able to stack them in there- I do the same for tomato sauce and chicken broth- it's real space saver.

I also made juice with the seedy pulp I squeezed form the tomatoes- just put it through a food strainer (I used an old chinois that I borrowed from my sister- it's got a wooden 'mill' sort of thing that helps to push the liquid through and break up the pulp- you'll have to push it through the strainer). this juice is awesome fresh- with no added salt or anything, it's got great body too- though it does separate as it sits or freezes, so you'll have to stir it- it's great to just drink or to use in soups.

One last note about canning Tomatoes- I use a boiling water canner- and I like canned salsa over frozen salsa- though I freeze everything else. I was a bit worried about the acidity of my tomatoes though as they did ripen off the vine, and I also think that yellow tomatoes have a lower acid content than traditional red ones. In order for boiling water canning to be safe, the item you're canning should have a ph of 4.6 or higher- so if you suspect that your tomatoes are a little low on acidity- add some lemon juice or vinegar- 1 tbsp per quart of tomatoes should do the trick.

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