Tag Archives: tomatoes

The summer kitchen

Much more time is spent in the kitchen than in the garden this time of the season. Each morning after animal chores and breakfast, I wander in the garden with baskets in hand, pull a few weeds, but mostly harvest. All tomatoes except for the occasional slicer are destined for canning in some form or another. Most of the Tomatillos now are being frozen in 1 pound bags as most recipes call for a pound.

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There are 5 pounds in the freezer since I am saving my jars for tomatoes and salsas. On mornings when the Tomatillos are generous and there are too many Jalapeños for a pint to can but not enough for 2, a batch of green salsa is made. Most of the Habanero’s are being strung to dry, there is so much XXX sauce it probably won’t get finished off this year.
If an Ancho pepper turns red, it is also strung to dry to make enchilada sauce later. There are two types of Cayenne’s in the garden. I didn’t realize that until the second type started bursting forth with peppers. Really I think they are not Cayenne’s though they were sold as such. The pepper is much smaller, grows upward and is hot, maybe Thai peppers, which is okay too. The Cayenne’s are strung to dry for crushed red pepper for pasta, pizza and cooking.

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Today there were lots of tomatoes ripe in the garden and more on the window sills and baskets in the house, so today was Chili Tomato canning day. Nine pints are out of the canner, sealed and cooling on a tray on the counter.

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These are my answer to the name brand tomatoes with green chilies that you purchase in the grocer. Mine are a bit spicier and lack the BPA lined can. We eat lots of Chili con Carne in the winter so they are a welcome addition to the larder.
Chili Tomatoes
4-5 quarts of peeled diced tomatoes
3  diced green Ancho peppers
4  diced Jalapeños
1 Tbs pickling salt
Place a heavy non-reactive pot on the stove top. Add the peppers and a couple of cups of diced tomatoes and simmer to allow the pepper to start cooking (I continue to add the tomatoes as I peel and dice them). Once all the tomatoes are added, add the salt and bring to a boil.
Ladle the mixture into clean hot pint jars. Wipe the rims and seal with new lids. Screw a band on and pressure can according to directions for your canner. Here in the mountains, it is 15 minutes at 12 PSI. They can be water bath canned but I would add some lemon juice to each pint to ensure acidity. My batch made 9 pints with about half a cup left over that I just added to the salsa in the refrigerator.

Lesson learned, last week I made 10 pints of pasta sauce and didn’t label them. The rest of the canned goods were labelled. Hubby opened one thinking it was salsa and noted that it wasn’t spicy like the first jar. I couldn’t figure out why one jar from a batch would be very spicy and another not at all until I went to get jars this morning and noted that all the salsa was still there but one jar of spaghetti sauce was missing. Mystery solved and lesson learned, label all of the jars. I would date them too, but nothing I can this year will be left at the end of winter except jelly and I do date them.
We are having internet issues right now, so posts may be sporadic for a while as well as replies to comments, my apologies in advance.
Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.

No Space Left

This morning’s tomato harvest pushed me over the edge. There was no more counter space to put them. Tonight the deck herbs can return to the deck and I will have plenty of collecting space, but not this morning. Since I was making pasta sauce, I prefer to pressure can, so down came the big canner, out came the instruction book for a refresher, out came the big sauce pot, chopping board, kitchen knives and ice water bath.
Tomatoes were removed from the freezer, peeled under running water and put in a large glass bowl to thaw. Fresh tomatoes were blanched for peeling, chopped and set aside. Onions, garlic, carrots, summer squash all chopped and sauteed til tender. The tomatoes were added to the pot with seasonings and simmered. Just before canning time, a few ounces of tomato paste were added.
The sauce was ladeled into 10 pint jars, just what my canner will hold and amazingly just the amount of sauce made and all processed for safe keeping.

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The next batch will be diced chili tomatoes, the canner being a fixture on the stove top for weeks to come. A batch of plain tomatoes will likely be made, more salsa and pasta sauce until the tomatoes are all used up. We will eat well this winter.

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Ten perfectly sealed pints cooling on the counter.

Salsa Season

With tomatoes and peppers taking over the empty spaces in my kitchen, sauces and salsas are the order of the day most days.  The lion’s share of the tomatoes become pasta sauce for the quick winter meal.  With or without meat added on serving day, spaghetti or penne cooked al dente and a salad or green beans sauteed in olive oil with a splash of lemon juice and sometimes a chunk of bread if I have been baking.

Another couple dozen jars will be canned tomato chunks with green chilies for using when I make my prize winning pot of chili on a cold eve.

Hubby and Son#1 love salsa, fresh or canned, green or red.  I have made one batch of tomatillo/jalapeno salsa and will make more with the next harvest of tomatillos.  Pico de Gallo is always welcome, but only happens when everything is fresh from the garden.  This year, I am going to try canning my own salsa as the brand of choice here has risen in price to nearly $5 per pint. To make this, I am going to use the one referenced in yesterday’s XXX hot sauce post.  We were visiting our cousin at their casa in Mexico and they have a husband and wife staff.  He cares for the grounds and does maintenance, she cleans, deals with linens and if you purchase food, will prepare breakfast and dinner for you for a very small fee.  If you want a great place to visit, check out www.Casadelplatero.net .  Our cousin likes his salsa too and this was served with breakfast and dinner’s in.

Casa del Platero Salsa

2 medium tomatoes, cut in half

1 medium onion cut in halves or quarters

2 jalapeno peppers cut in half lengthwise

2 cloves garlic

salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet in a small amount of cooking oil (I use Olive or grapeseed) cook the tomatoes, onion and peppers cut side down until lightly browned and softened.  Add garlic and cook just until fragrant, don’t let it brown, it gets bitter.  Place all in a blender or food processor and blend until a chunky salsa consistency.  Salt and pepper to taste.  May be served warm or chilled.  It will keep for a week or two in a jar in the refrigerator.  If you want it less spicy, just use less jalapeno, if you want more fire, add more or add a half of a habanero pepper.

As I plan to can it this year, I will add 1 Tbs lemon juice and 1/2 tsp pickling salt to each hot pint jar before spooning in the salsa and will water bath can it for 25 minutes (I live above 2000 feet so adjust to your altitude) or pressure can it for 15 minutes.

The remaining tomatoes will be eaten fresh or canned plain for those days when I just need canned tomatoes for a recipe.  It looks like a bumper crop this year.

Another food day

Today was a rainy day.  It started with frozen rain and a slick walk to the chicken coop to let them out, but then the rain set in.  Rainy days are comfort food days and as I had put away tomatoes in the freezer last summer and fall, after blanching, peeling and crushing them, I decided it would be a good day for a big pot of pasta sauce.  There are onions in the house, carrots in the fridge, celery that I had chopped and frozen, lots of garlic from last summer’s garden and the herb and spice supply well stocked.  I don’t use jarred sauce, well not commercial jarred sauce.  Instead, when I make sauce, I make plenty, jar up the extra in wide mouth pint jars and then either can or freeze it for a quick meal on another day.  My sauce takes many hours of simmering, but is so worth the effort.

Our use of the post holiday discount that we got from the local grocery had resupplied the dry pasta supply as well, so homemade sauce and angel hair was the meal of the evening.

Pasta Sauce

2 medium onions chopped

1 head of garlic peeled and minced

4 stalks of celery chopped

2 carrots, diced

12 cups of crushed tomatoes

1-2 Tbs dried oregano

1-2 Tbs dried basil

1 Tbs fennel seed

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

2 tsp salt (if tomatoes are unsalted)

EVOO to coat the bottom of a heavy pot

Saute the onions, celery and carrots until the onions are translucent.  Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two until the garlic is fragrant.  Add the tomatoes, herbs, fennel and salt, bring to a low boil and reduce to a low simmer for several hours, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking.  As the sauce thickens, break up the tomatoes and adjust seasoning to taste.

At this point, precooked Italian sausage links or crumbled sausage can be added if desired.  Hubby likes it with meat, I am just as happy with it as it.

Serve over the pasta of your choice and top with shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese and more crushed red pepper if you want more spice. 20130908_143737

This comfort meal provided a great meal for 2 plus 5 pint jars of sauce for the freezer for an easy meal on another night.