Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Preserving Tomatoes

If I had to choose a must-have item to preserve each year it would definitely be tomatoes.  I really can't imagine quite how I would prepare meals without my tomatoes.  Yesterday on our way home from the beach we stopped off to pick tomatoes (and other produce) in town.  I had been told to pick as many as we wanted on the weekend because they would just go to waste and found soooo many at the peak of ripeness that I felt sure they didn't really want me to pick them all.  We double checked that we were indeed to "pick as many as you want" and then the boys and I picked quickly while the rain came down and the lightening started.
I wanted to make a batch of salsa first to give to the gernerous gardeners who had allowed us free-range in their garden.  I made a batch of my tomato peach salsa with some of the peppers we had picked from their garden.  I love this recipe because it is simple and always turns out well for me no matter what little adjustments I make to it.
Once that was bubbling on the stove I started the tomatoes.  I have no room left in my freezers so I won't be doing any stewed tomatoes this year.  I got 21 quarts of canned tomatoes out of all these tomatoes and  we will head back tomorrow for some more to make passata.

Last week I was canning with a friend and she told me that her grandmother used to dry her tomato skins and then use them, ground up, as a flavourful seasoning in soups, stews, etc.  Of course I have to try it so I have cookie sheets full drying in my solar dryer right now.  I've already had a nibble of one and the flavour is intense and yummy. 
I love seeing all the jars of goodness lined up on the counter, waiting to be tucked away for wintertime use when nothing is growing here.  It feels even better knowing that we were able to prevent all of these yummy tomatoes from going to waste.  And now, as I go about the rest of my day, I can hear the little pop, pop, pops of lids sealing.  Lovely!


affectioknit said...

You are so lucky to get all those tomatoes! I can remember falling asleep as a child and hearing the 'pop' of Mom's jars...

Leigh said...

Absolutely lovely! I envy all those tomatoes. What a blessing to be able to get so many like that.

I will be very interested in how the dried tomato skins work out. Sounds like an excellent use for them.

Heather said...

Affectioknit - I love that you have that memory - falling asleep to the sound of the 'pop' of mason jars. Lovely. I remember waking up June mornings to the smell of my mom's strawberry freezer jam and then eating toast with the 'skimmings' of it for breakfast. Yum.

Leigh - the tomato skins turned out really well, we will certainly be using all our tomato skins in this way from now on instead of composting them.

Annie said...

Oh yum! That all looks so tasty. I did quite a bit of salsa this year. I wish I'd had enough tomatoes to do them by themselves too. I'd really like to try doing the skins! I could have managed that. Have you used them much since?

Heather said...

Hi Annie - we love to have the plain canned tomatoes as I use them in soups and sauces all year round. They make a delicious difference to the taste. I haven't used the skins much yet as of October because I am still using my fresh tomatoes up. I'm almost out of fresh though so will start adding the dried powder to more things now.