Sunday, August 26, 2007

This Job Will Not Be Outsauced

Tomatoes, tomatoes, and more tomatoes -- are you as sick and tired of hearing about them as I am of telling you about them?

I know I've gotten a little repetitive of late, buried as I've been under loads of lycopene-laden fruit. And yes, I admit that there's no point in my complaining about it (not that I really do) because I continue to add to the piles of my own free will.

But since I want those tomatoes come winter, I'm going to do whatever work it takes to enjoy them later.

Having brought home several quarts of paste tomatoes from the farmers' market yesterday, I wanted to get started on them right away. Instead, I headed off on a grand adventure and returned to the tomatoes in the evening.

I'm glad I discovered that I can tuck the simmered sauce into the fridge overnight and finish off the canning work the next day -- that makes the prospect of making sauce slightly less daunting. So I skinned and strained and simmered the tomatoes last evening before heating them up once more while the hot water in the canner came to a boil this morning.

I'll also add that I had a "why didn't I think of this before?" moment while straining the tomatoes. As I was about to dump some of the strained tomato pulp into the bowl with the skins for composting, I realized that I should save the pulp and add it to the tomatoes that I will can in a couple of days. Why not? It might just thicken that juicy mess once I get around to it.

This morning, while I started working on today's cooking project (more on that later), six pints of pure tomato sauce went through the hot water bath and came out sealed and ready to reside in my pantry. (Actually, now that I have 11 pints, I can fill a box that originally held the clean jars and slide it under my bed in order to save space in the pantry.)

Only one more round of tomato-canning is coming up, I believe, so you shouldn't have to hear or read much more of this. (If you really do, the folks at Culinate have a new article about the joys of canning, aptly called "Message in a bottle." It's worth a read!)

Of course, after the tomatoes, you'll probably get to hear about applesauce and Concord grape juice and who knows what else. I will be ready to put away the canner once the harvest is over, believe me.

But until then, it's work I'm not willing to give to anyone else.


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