This weekend or next may be the last call for tomatoes for the season, so break out the canner, freezer bags, dehydrator or whatever you preserving method of choice is. Tomatoes do best with nighttime temperatures above 55 degrees, but overnight temps in Portland are more consistently in the low 50’s at this time of year. Frequent fall rains overwhelm the fruits with moisture, which results in cracked tomatoes. The rain and chill will surely increase by the end of the month.
- Tomato paste – frozen in 1/2 cup increments, about 10 cups total (done)
- Tomato sauce – 25 pints (done)
- Whole canned tomatoes – 20 quarts (could use 15 more)
- Marinara sauce – 10 quarts (could use 10 more)
That might seem like a good haul to most folks, but I know it’s not enough to get us to next June. That means I either need to cram one more weekend of canning in before the tomatoes get torn out, swap canned goods with friends or do a shortcut method by freezing them now/canning them later.
When Juniper was little I was in the same predicament – short on time but desperately needing more tomatoes before winter. I blanched and peeled several pounds one weekend. It still required some time, but a lot less than going through the full canning process. I stored the peeled tomatoes in the freezer for several months. In early winter, I put the frozen peeled tomatoes in a stockpot and simmered it down into sauce. I then canned them up so they were ready to use on demand.
You could also just freeze the peeled tomatoes and use them in recipes whole, instead of canned. My freezer is already packed with berries and frozen garden veggies, so I’m not keen on stuffing tomatoes in there too long-term. But it’s certainly faster and easier than canning when you are short on time.
I would love to hear whether you have thrown in the towel for the season or are still in the thick of food preservation! Aside from tomatoes, I have two dehydrators working on apple chips, asian pear rings and fruit leather. The canner seems like a permanent fixture on the stove. But I do long for the winter nights when I can be enjoying some dark beer and not stuck over the preserving pot!