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!