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Tomatoes….

September 4th, 2018

I always plant a lot of tomatoes, mostly because we LOVE tomatoes. There are always cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, drying tomatoes, canning tomatoes, and roma type tomatoes. They come in all colors, shapes, and sizes and we eat them with glutenous abandon for the two months they are in their prime. The ones we can’t eat fresh, are dried, roasted, canned, and turned into soups, sauces, and paste.

One of our favorite ways to preserve tomatoes is to roast them. I discovered the delicious jammy intensity of roasted tomatoes years ago when I made Roasted Tomato Passata from the River Cottage Preserves Handbook. Some of the batches of roasted tomatoes we put through a food mill, but many of them dont’ make it that far. We layer these tasty treat on toast in the morning. These also freeze well and can be used in frittatas and other recipes straight out of the freezer.

What garden bounty are you preserving this week?

Squirreling Away for Winter

September 5th, 2017

It’s been a busy week and weekend. My evenings are filled with harvesting and preserving. The apples, tomatoes, beans, and peppers are coming in like mad. Green beans are blanched and frozen, peppers are chopped and frozen. Both things are frozen on cookie sheets and put into freezer bags to be scooped out in quantities needed.

The tomatoes are being put up in a few different ways. ‘Principe Borghese’ are dried in the sun dried tomato fashion. Some tomatoes are canned crushed for winter cooking, others are turned into conserve. Right now I’ve only finished up a batch of crushed tomatoes. Stay tuned for various posts this week about all the other things I’m making with all the garden bounty (including recipes for a few tried and true favorites). While this season seems a bit frantic, it will all be worth it in the dead of winter. When snow is deep on the garden, we can enjoy chili made with homegrown poblanos, tomatoes, and onions. There’s nothing better (and saves more money) than shopping in your freezer and pantry!

What are you preserving from your garden?

Tomatoes

April 19th, 2014

Last weekend I started my tomato seeds. I’m doing this a few weeks later than I usually do, but spring has been long in coming.
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tomatoes 1
I’m growing a few new varieties this year, the ‘Beaverlodge’ types from Territorial. They are supposed to start producing at 55 days – we shall see if I’m harvesting fruit in late June. The best part about this variety is that if it does well it should be producing fruit for canning before late blight arrives.
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This year I’m going to try grafting a few. I purchased the grafting seeds and am hoping to get enough rootstock to graft one of each of the heirloom varieties that I’m growing. I’ll plant them side by side with their non-grafted counterpart and look for any differences is disease resistance, growth rates and fruit production.
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I’m most excited about my favorite tomato ‘Principe Borghese’. This beauty is the perfect tomato, small, delicious and a prolific producer. I love that it can easy be dried and tastes just like sun dried tomatoes. It also roasts up perfectly for my roasted tomato passata.

What’s your favorite tomato?

Slow-Roasting Tomatoes

August 25th, 2010

I don’t know that I’ve ever met a tomato recipe I haven’t liked, but there are some that I love more than others. One of my favorite ways to enjoy summer tomatoes is by slow-roasting them in the oven. You can throw these on pizza, on salads, eat them plain or my favorite, on top of some toast with an egg. When you slow roast tomatoes it deepens the flavor and concentrates the sugars. As a result you’re left with delicious jammy little puddles of tomato goodness, and making them couldn’t be simpler! This is even a great way to deal with so-so tomatoes that you buy from the store or the end of the season tomatoes that are ripened indoors and lack the sun-ripened flavor.

You can use any kind of tomato, from cherries to beefsteaks, just keep in mind that the larger the tomato the longer it will take to roast. Roma types that are dry roast quicker so check them earlier, but beefsteaks are more concentrated when roasted so they taste better. If you’re going to roast a batch, you may as well do an entire oven full to save energy and I guarantee you’ll always want more!

All you need to do it is cut the tomatoes in half, lay skin side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (the parchment helps get them up later). If you want to, drizzle with olive oil and some freshly chopped herbs and sprinkle with salt and pepper, or simply roast as is, it’s up to you, I do both. Roast in a 225 degree oven for 4-8 hours or until reduced in size and slightly moist, cooking time depends on size of tomatoes and your oven. You can try raising oven temp to 250, but you may get some dark spots on the tomatoes, it depends on your oven. I like to put mine in the oven before I go to bed and set the timer for 6 hours. The next morning I check the tomatoes, remove any that are finished and continue roasting any tomatoes that aren’t quite done. You can taste one after 3-4 hours and you’ll be able to tell if it’s done or not. It should taste like concentrated tomato with a slightly sweet tang. If it’s still acidic and sour, roast for a while longer.

These will need to be frozen to preserve them. I usually freeze on the cookie sheets, then store in a large bag. That way can I get one or twenty depending on what I’m making. I like to use slow-roasted tomatoes in my homemade ketchup, I find it adds a wonderful rich flavor and reduces the cooking time. I don’t roast them quite as long as when I do this since it’s much easier to extract the peels and seeds when they’re not quite as dry.

Have you ever slow roasted tomatoes?

Putting up Tomatoes for Winter Sauces

August 18th, 2010

My tomatoes are finally starting to ripen up en masse as are the ones in my mom’s garden. I’ve been picking big bucketfuls of all colors shapes and sizes. When I see these sitting in the kitchen, I know exactly why I grow a variety of heirlooms, how beautiful!

On Sunday evening I worked well into the night canning up some tomatoes for enjoying this winter. I’m trying to focus more on eating seasonally and growing foods that don’t need to be preserved by canning, but tomatoes are an exception. I’ll always can tomatoes for making sauces and soups. I also dry a lot of tomatoes, but sometimes a rich hearty meat sauce is the perfect dinner, and I need canned tomatoes for that.

I can all of my tomatoes as crushed tomatoes, and I never remove the seeds. Some people say the seeds can make your tomatoes bitter, but I’ve never noticed that it does. I’ve read so many different directions for canning crushed tomatoes, some of them say to process them for an hour and half in a water bath canner. I follow the directions from this great brochure from the University of Georgia – Tomato Canning. I also use the directions from Well-Preserved.

What do I do? I simply peel the tomatoes and cut them up, add them to a large pan, heat them to boiling and continue to cook them for 5 minutes. Then I fill hot jars allowing a 1/2 to 3/4 inch head space (I find that with tomatoes you want your head space to be slightly more, never less than 1/2 inch). I add a basil leaf to each jar and add the lid and ring. Then I process in a water bath canner for 35 minutes for pints, 45 min for quarts. When processing time is finished, leave jars in canner with heat turned off for 5 minutes, then remove. I find that this step helps with sealing on tomatoes, they have a tendency to expand when you take them out the canner and kind of boil up.

Do you grow enough tomatoes to can? What’s your favorite way to preserve them for the winter?

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Shop through these links and I get a few cents each time. It's not much, but it allows me to buy a new cookbook or new gardening book every couple months. I appreciate your support!

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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