Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Up North for Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes

As planting season approached this year, my dad, Paul and I collaborated on who would plant what and what we would do with it.  We had a plan.  I thought it was a good one.  I now know that our plan included way, way, way too many tomato plants.  Perhaps that is because I expected him to use some of the tomatoes he planted.  As it turns out, he has no interest in tomatoes this year and so Paul and I have been rallying to get as many of them preserved as we can.  Two weekends ago, we spent the weekend at my dad's house in Wisconsin where we canned crushed, peeled tomatoes and tomato sauce.

In one day Paul and I processed this many tomatoes (with dishwashing and logistical help from my dad).

My dad set us up with 6 propane burners outside. It was great to have that many burners to keep things going and to have all of the steam be released into the great outdoors instead of into a kitchen!

We blanched, peeled and cored all of the tomatoes we processed that day.

The sauce got pureed in the vitamix before getting seasoned and cooked down.

During breaks in our hands-on tasks, we visited my dad's chickens. I'll share more about them in a later post, including Tchazo's reaction to meeting chickens for the first time.

Speaking of Tchazo, he wore himself out and took a long nap under our processing station.  He has always been good at finding a shady spot on a hot day.

At the end of the day, we had put up many jars of both tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes.

Many, many jars!

We felt pretty badass about our accomplishment.

After we had dinner, I plucked a few apples off the trees and made up a small batch of applesauce with cinnamon and a tiny bit of sugar.

It was a test to see how the unknown variety my dad is growing does as a sauce.  Selfless tester that I am, I tried it out with vanilla ice cream to really put the sauce through its paces.  It passed!  That mystery variety makes delicious sauce.  I especially liked this batch because I staggered when I put the apples pieces into the pot so some of them were broken down while some were still intact.  I think that is the way I will do it from now on.  For the record, the sauce was also good on our oatmeal the next morning.

After a bit of time outside stargazing, we all headed to bed for a good night's rest.  We would need it because we weren't done with our to-do list yet!

I woke up bright and early to catch this beautiful sky show.

We were out in the garden before the dew had evaporated, strategizing about how we would get everything done before our mid-day departure.

We had a lot to harvest before we left, including a few rows of beans.  My dad has been experimenting with growing legumes.  This year he planted a bunch of varieties including kidney, pinto and black beans.  We harvested enough to fill 3 paper grocery bags.  Since the plants are done with their work, we just yanked them up and picked the beans off of each plant.  The remaining plant then went to the chickens.  Thanks to my aunt Audrey and cousin Kendra for helping pick the beans for us.  They made a surprise visit to help us out.

A few times over the weekend, I wandered away to pick a handful or two of wild blackberries.  They were at the end of their season, so I didn't bother bringing a container out picking.  I just stuck with filling my "belly bucket."

After we harvested everything that could possibly fit into our car, we shared a lunch and then hit the road.  Loaded into our car along with all of those jars of tomatoes, us, our stuff and Tchazo, we had a ton of tomatoes, 4 heads of cabbage, cucumbers, zucchini, beans, corn, kale, collard greens, peppers, and potatoes.  Since then, my life has continued to be ruled by tomatoes.  So. Many. Tomatoes.

Later tonight, I am going to knit with my Tuesday night knitting group.  I am bringing flats of tomatoes and hope to leave with empty flats. I've been spreading the wealth around to my neighbors, family and friends, but it time to start getting serious about paying it forward with this produce. I have done so much preserving it will take me a few weeks to post about what I've made!

For the/my record, here is what we did with the tomatoes up north:

Tomato Sauce - adapted from Canning for a New Generation
32 cups puree (from roma tomatoes that have been blanched, peeled and cored)
5 T olive oil
5 chopped onions (30 oz)
5 lg cloves garlic minced
5 teaspoons salt
lots of bottle lemon juice

heat oil
saute onions until translucent
add garlic and saute for a minute
add puree
bring to a boil over high heat
lower heat to a simmer
simmer and reduce, stirring occasionally, until it has reached your desired consistency (most likely when it has been reduced by 1/3 or more, depending on the moisture content of your tomatoes)
add salt to taste

add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to each hot, sanitized 1/2 pint jar, fill with sauce leaving 1/2" head space
wipe rims and screw on rings and lids
process in hot water bath for 35 minutes

Crushed Peeled Tomatoes
blanch, peel, core and quarter tomatoes
boil in preserving pan for about 5 minutes
add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon salt into each hot, sterilized quart jar
add tomatoes into jars, leaving 1/2" head space
wipe, seal and process for 45 minutes in a hot water bath


  1. Um...yum! We would be happy to take some off your hands. :)

    Also, I really think you and Paul just need to open up your own CSA/organic farm and move out to the wilderness. That photo of the two of you by all the tomatoes cracked me up! Seriously now.

    1. Oh, darn! I did end up getting rid of all of them at my knitting group. I'll keep you in mind for next time!

  2. WOW! What an impressive team. And belly bucket is my new favorite term.

    1. Ha! Glad you caught that one. It is a common phrase in my family.

  3. Wow , that was quite a project! Loved your photos and tomatoes of course! During the Fall we have some really delicious tomatoes here (my dad grows them) which I call baby tomatoes. They are small and yummy!

  4. Love those Fall sunny days and tomatoes :) especially if you can be outdoors doing such wonderful things like you.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...