I picked up the best looking tomatoes today and I’m up with the sun to roast and chop and process them for the rest of the year! Canning can feel so daunting but if you plan ahead and always have a few certain things on hand, you can be ready when the harvest comes. And BOY is it harvest time up here!
Canning seriously used to frighten me. With my first batch of jam, I psyched myself up, asked around for help and then slowly and methodically followed the steps on the package of pectin. Oh, that feels like a hundred years ago because now I barely even blink when I load up the water bath canning pot and standing over a huge hot sauce pot all day. As with all my kitchen experimenting, I love to play, so I bring that exploration of flavor to canning our fruits and vegetables at the height their flavor, picked in the morning and (hopefully) canned that night.
This year my goal is to not buy any more commercially canned tomatoes or tomato sauce. That means working hard right now to save and preserve about a hundred pounds of tomatoes this week. I like chopped tomatoes for their flexibility. I can use them in soups, chilis, and cook them down for pasta sauce and pizzas, So 2 25 pound boxes are lined up for roasting with a bit of garlic, onion, and peppers. This will become Amy’s Chunky Roasted Garlic Tomatoes.
The other box is ALMOST too pretty to blanche, juice and chop. But off they will go to become a rainbow salsa with the hottest yellow peppers I have seen this year! Thank goodness I was able to grow our own cilantro on the deck to really round out the flavor. This will get some silly name like “hurricane jam” or “hot hot hot salsa” or something more punny when the steam from the water bath canning process is finished and the jars sit out on the table later this evening. Sassy Saucy Salsa?
Now, if you are interested in making sauce there are many different recipes out there and books specifically for food preservation, but really you have to figure out what you like and then just run with it. Follow guidelines like these for our state for canning and processing. Basically know that you have to peel, seed and cook tomatoes. Tomatoes really do need to be peeled, because they will get rolled up and chewy no matter what kind of chopping and cooking you do. To peel skins, you can drop in boiling water for 30 seconds or until the skins split and then dunk in an ice bath. Or, roast tomatoes for 60 minutes in a 350 degree oven and they will easily slide off.
You have to remove most of the seeds, too. And, you have to cook it down a bit to make great flavors. To remove seeds and juice, I prefer squeezing by hand into another container. Some people get a food mill and sieves but either way getting most of those seeds out and losing a lot of the tomato juice/water into another vessel will produce a better, fuller tomato flavor for your sauce or salsa.
When I processed my first cans this year I had a lot of waste product, skins, cores, juice and seeds that I figured I would throw into my stock pot with a chicken carcass like I usually do. But then I wondered, I wonder what else can I do with this?
Amy’s SAUCY- Sauce
(Because it’s no fun to call it “by-product sauce” but it is no-waste sauce from sauce!)
- Cores, seeds, skins, pieces from whatever you make when canning tomatoes.
- Basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper, sugar.
Toss all the scrap pieces FROM your canning salsa or CHOPPED tomatoes into a large heavy bottomed pot.
Bring this to a boil. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn and once boiling reduce to a simmer.
Allow this to simmer for an hour. Stir occasionally.
Puree the pot of sauce and watch that you don’t get hit with the sauce! Pour through a fine mesh strainer into another pot. The strained cooked veggies go into the compost.
Simmer again for 45 minutes or until the sauce reaches your favorite consistency.
Add salt, pepper, garlic, basil, oregano, to taste. Maybe even add maple syrup or sugar to equalize the tanginess of fresh tomatoes!
Enjoy on pizza or with pasta! Yum!
The end product was the most amazing pizza/ pasta sauce I have ever tasted. I was so excited to have no waste whatsoever! So that is this evenings work when the sauce and salsa are done. Make a huge batch of sauce from the sauce!
What are you preserving, freezing, tucking away for the next season from the harvest? Let us know! I am always curious about what other people do for their kitchen experiments!