I mentioned last week, that this weekend, I was going to tackle canning tomatoes and apples. Well, after six hours in a hot kitchen chopping, cooking and canning, you can sorta tell I made a dent in the box of each I bought on Sunday at the Capitol Market.
You can't beat the farmers' market this time of year. Summer produce is starting to wane and give way to Indian corn, pumpkins, and gourds. The farmers are trying to move the remaining produce, cause none of them want to pack that stuff back home. Today, I got the last box of canning tomatoes for $10. Ten dollars!
I also bought a box of Rome apples, which the guy at the Crihfied Farm booth told me were the best for making applesauce. This guy knows what's up, too, I'll tell ya. And, I bought a pint of honey from them and a butternut squash.
I started out making some tomato paste. I got the recipe from the USDA's Home Canning and Preservation Guide. But I didn't can it, I froze it. I actually froze the tomato paste in a mini muffin tin. I hate when you have a recipe that calls for 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. So, you buy a 4 oz. can and throw the rest away. Well, the mini muffin tin makes perfect 2-3 tablespoon individual "nuggets" that you can thaw out and use whenever you need. I do this all the time when I make stock. You just pop them out of the muffin tins and put them in a freezer bag. Well, stock "pops" out of the aluminum muffin tins WAY easier than tomato paste. I need to get one of those fancy silicone muffin tins if I'm gonna do this again. Okay, so that only used like 6 tomatoes. Forty more to go.
Next, I made tomato soup that will knock your socks off. I got the recipe here from the Closet Cooking blog. Damn. It was so easy. But it only made two servings. It also made a mess in my oven as the olive oil dripped down onto the heating element. Note to self: next time I make this (and I will be making it again in the very near future) use a pizza pan instead of a cookie sheet with no rim. As soon as I get some more onions, I'll make a double of this and freeze it. Okay, so that took another 5 tomatoes.
I wanted to can tomatoes to last me for a while. I am always buying diced canned tomatoes at the grocery store. Usually like 1 or 2 cans a weeks. Seriously, I put them in everything. They're not that expensive. Was it worth it to spend half a day canning them? Who knows. But I canned 10 pints today, and I have over half of a box left. Processing the tomatoes is quite a process, but after a while, I got a little assembly line going from blanching the tomaotes, peeling them, and packing them in the jars. Don't just throw the skins away after you peel them, though. Extra credit for keeping the skins in your bag of veggie scraps in the freezer to make vegetable broth with later. Everyone does that, right? No, just me? Okay, I'm a geek. It's a little trick I learned from my friend, Martha. Just keep all your veggie scraps in the freezer until you get a gallon bag full. Add some water and the scraps to a stew pot and simmer for 30 or 45 minutes. Strain out the scraps, and I put the broth in my muffin tin and ice cube trays. Just don't use onion skins. They turn bitter.