Almost every evening since I’ve been back in Oregon has revolved around some sort of food preservation. The produce… it waits for no one! The canner assumed the position on the stove next to my copper stockpot, where they have been actively bubbling away since.
The tomatoes started ripening in late August, so when we got into town we graciously accepted about 40 pounds of tomatoes from the Urban Farm. Holy tomatoes! That is a lot to preserve quickly. They were a mix of sauce tomatoes and some Gold Metal juicy heirlooms.
The first step is to peel and core all of these guys. We got a pot of boiling water going, then dropped the tomatoes in batches into the water for about 30-60 seconds. Then they were throw into a sink full of cold water, which stops them from cooking further. That short time in the boiling water is enough to loosen the skins so you can peel them off easily and core them.
What do forty pounds of tomatoes look like exactly? Well, about five big bowls piled high.
Sauce tomatoes are perfect for making… sauce! They are thick and not too watery, so you end up with a rich dense sauce. I have made marinara with slicer tomatoes before, but I just cook it down longer so it ends up thicker. We ended up needing a second sauce pot to get all the tomatoes cooking with herbs and spices for some yummy marinara sauce.
At the end of the very long day of simmering, we canned twelve quarts of marinara sauce from four heaping bowls of tomatoes. I had a leftover bowl of tomatoes that just wouldn’t fit into the two sauce pots, so I saved it and made ketchup in the slow-cooker the next day.
Jay just graduated with his doctorate degree in August (woohoo!) and I am right in the middle of grad school still. Preserving is a way for us to stock up on local, organic produce through the winter that will save us time and money in the long run. When we are exhausted during the week, we can just crack open a jar for a quick pizza, spaghetti or lasagna sauce.
Let the canning continue!