Sunday, September 23, 2012

I love tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of my favorite snacks and ingredient for winter recipes so every year I try to grow and can as many as possible.  I'm not an advanced gardener and though some people may think I have a green thumb, I figure it's as easy as fertilized dirt and plenty of water every day.  With that in mind, I always grow a cherry tomato plant for me, Apollo usually picks out a Big Beef tomato plant (which always fails miserably but he hasn't given up yet) for himself and any other type that catches my fancy for canning.

As an experiment, this summer I decided to grow a heap of Roma's just for canning.  When I say heap, I mean ten plants.  I had grand ambitions!  I had no idea they were such late producers and unfortunately, our summer was short and long in getting here.  So that means few ripe tomatoes with tons of green tomatoes on the bush and our summer days are drawing to an end.

My poor Roma's

We didn't even get to pick any of them until last week but when we  did, we got a nice basket full. Oh, and I kind of let the weeds take over this year.  One of my good friends is all about organic gardening and I kind of went with it.  In my book, organic = awesome! if you would rather do something like knit a sock, read a book or pet a kitty after you do your part by stepping on a few snails first.

Apollo and our first batch of tomatoes

Apollo even helped pick tomatoes, even though football was on.  He's a good man!  He's especially helpful since most of them will be going into meatloaf and chili.

Tomatoes canned in their own juice

Half way through canning my first batch, I realized I was using lime juice, not lemon.  Hopefully that won't be a problem.  (Note to self, if you're reading this in September 2013, do not use the "packed in own juices" method.  The solids separate and I don't like that, right?  I was much more successful with the "packed in water" method last year.)  I didn't get a lot but this is from my first night of canning so hopefully I'll get more before my plants give up.

When I was a kid, I was disgusted by canned tomatoes.  I don't think it helped that my toothless grandpa ate them like candy.  I knew they were slimy and the idea that he was gumming them down somehow turned me off. I still remember him looking at me with bug eyes, gumming his slimy canned tomato while his chin almost touched his nose with each bite.

First batch of tomato sauce

I realized I'm not going to get a lot of tomatoes this year, so I this weekend I decided to just go for it and use what little we have at the moment to try canning tomato sauce.  There are several recipes in my canning book but after I got all the seeds separated from the flesh, I decided to wing it and throw in some herbs and garlic and call it good.

BTW, winging it is usually what gets people like me in trouble, so we'll see how this works out.  I figured you can't get in too much trouble with herbs and garlic though, right?  It's not like I decided to take a last minute diversion off Highway 101 to Highway 1 a couple hours before sunset so Aimee and I could watch the beautiful sunset, with less than half a tank, not realizing how foggy it would be in unknown territory and that six hours later I would have to drive 20 miles an hour all night due to lack of visibility and pee outside our car doors at 2AM because we were too afraid to go any further and would finally end up sleeping in the car outside a gas station somewhere north of San Francisco.  Nope, just herbs and garlic. Just herbs and garlic.

First batch of tomato sauce

After cooking down the rather thin sauce, this is what I got.  Four pints!  Ha!  That's so cute, four pints!  Well, I'm sure it will be delicious and it seems to be pretty thick, so I'm happy with it.  If I get more tomatoes, I'll definitely make more.

Next year I'm thinking of making tomato paste but I'm pretty sure I'll need earlier producing tomatoes.  Or 20 Roma plants. We'll see.

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