Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Processing Tomatoes

The major picking has commenced! Hopefully there will be a long harvest. I am a little worried it has been too humid and I don't want things to rot rather than ripen. It isn't helping that I used a wimpier twine this year and it is breaking down too fast and allowing the tomato vines to fall to the ground after all the work I did to tie them up all season.

At this point in the year, I've been so distracted with the tending, picking and processing that I have forgotten some of the plant variety names, particularly the ones I purchased. (Just under half of the tomato seedlings were store bought this year.) I usually seem to get ones that aren't labeled correctly anyway. So, this year, I'm not sure what some of these tomatoes are. A lot were supposed to be 'Early Girl', but I really don't think they are. I am going to call them Abzorbaloff tomatoes as they seem to really like absorbing several of the tomatoes growing around them and growing into lumpy blobs equal in size to several large individual tomatoes! They still taste fine, but they look weird!

For today's processing, I picked the bowl full you see in the picture, plus another 1.5 bowl fulls. It is a good amount for the pots I have to work with. I use whatever kinds are ripe. I mix them all together. I like to add some plum tomatoes for thickness and cherry tomatoes for sweetness. When I have some 'Lemon Boy' a few of those add a really great flavor to the batch. Every batch is a little different.

They all get washed, cut, dumped into my largest pot (not counting the canning pot) and simmered.

I add tomatoes right to the brim.

As they cook down, I ladle the juice over to another pot, straining it through the food mill. As the pulp softens, I start milling it too. I end up with about 1.5 large pots full of tomato puree, which I simmer to reduce and thicken.

After it cools somewhat, I ladle the puree into bags and haul them to the chest freezer in the basement. I use this puree for so much...stocks, soups, pizza sauce, pasta sauce, chili, bbq sauce, etc. There is tomato splashed all over the kitchen (and I'm wearing some too) but it's worth it!

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