Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tomato Wisdom

I don’t know about your house, but it is high tomato season at my house. We are virtually drowning in the sensous rosy red fruit (although some of our heirloom varieties are pink, yellow, orange, and my favorite – rainbow). So far, I've canned 27 pints of salsa, 24 quarts of tomato sauce, 18 pints of diced tomatoes, and 16 pints of pizza sauce. And still the tomatoes ripen. There’s no time to write while the sun is shining, so here’s five little nuggets of wisdom I’ve gleaned from the tomatoes this year:
  1. You don’t have to do things the way everyone else does it. You don’t have to peel the tomatoes. If you’re making puree or pizza sauce, or even tomato sauce, just clean them super well, core and seed them, and run them through the food processor until they are liquefied. Skipping all that peeling saves endless time.
  2. You don’t have to stick to your plan. Use up the most ripe tomatoes first. Let go of your best laid plans and use up the over-ripe mortgage lifters first if the Amish paste tomatoes are still firm. Once a couple tomatoes start to rot in your containers, the fruit flies and ungodly stench descend. Get to work.
  3. Sometimes it’s best to put off until tomorrow what you really can’t do today.  If you don’t have time and you are overrun with tomatoes, clean them really well and put them in plastic bags in your freezer. If they're destined to be sauce anyway, freezing them won’t hurt –promise. You can can at Christmas if you want. Or use them as you need them, provided you have the space to store them in the freezer. Our cow arrived a few weeks ago, so all the space in our freezer is spoken for.
  4. Cheating is permitted when there’s nothing at stake except your sanity. You can stretch out your work time by refrigerating your tomatoes. We’ve had them wait two weeks on us with very little loss by picking and putting them directly in the fridge.
  5. Even when you’re busy, it’s important to feed your children well. Plant cherry tomatoes and when your kids are hungry for a snack, send them to eat directly off the plant – saves time, dishes, and money!
Using the deep fryer base to can outside. Water heats faster and it keeps the heat out of the kitchen.