...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Monday, October 8, 2012

See you 'mater'

So, I always plant a couple of tomato plants in the garden in the spring.  I am pretty much the only person that eats tomatoes (although Ellie decided she has a hankering for cherry tomatoes this year) so I usually plant one full size tomato and one cherry tomato plant in the yard and since I LOOOOVE tomatoes I pretty much keep up with whatever the two plants produce.
But not this year!
This year our tomato plants went wild and took over a HUGE section of the garden.  They did NOT stay contained in their sturdy tomato cages...they burst out all over the place and wound their tendrils around every other plant in the garden. 

Also this year, we had a bonus volunteer plant show up midway through summer.  I don't normally plant vegetables in the window wells, but this guy thought it would be a great place to grow.  So he did.

Anyway, the point is we've had tomatoes coming out our ears.  I would (no kidding) get a bowl like this of cherry tomatoes every three or four days.  And while I can eat them like candy there comes a point when MORE tomatoes is no longer enticing.  So, we've taken them to neighbors all over the neighborhood to share our bounty.

And since I can't eat this many tomatoes I decided (after some bullying from my mother) to grind them down and can some tomato sauce.  If you have a plethora of bonus tomatoes you may want to try this little project too, so here's how it's done.
First, gather some tomatoes (duh).

Next, plop them in boiling water for about a minute. 
Then plunge them into an ice bath.  The combination of these two gets them ready to can and also helps their skins peel off easily (and you want their skins off because the skins get crusty and gross in the cans if you leave them on).
Next you need to cut the tomatoes in fourths and rinse out the seeds (as much as you can, they don't have to be perfect). 
After that deposit the gloppy mess of tomato guts into a large pot and set them on the stove to simmer for about an hour.  This boils away some of the bonus water and will leave you with a thicker sauce (and it makes your house smell AwEsOmE!!).
Finally, pour your sauce into canning jars.  You will also want to add about two tablespoons of lemon juice to each quart.  This increases the acidity (as tomatoes aren't quite acidy (??) enough to toe the line alone) and greatly increases the odds that your tomatoes will not go rank while sitting in your pantry waiting to be consumed.
Now twist on new lids and boil them (the whole jar, not just the lids) in a canning pot (make sure your water fills about an inch above the top of your bottle) for 40 -45 minutes.  Let them rest on a towel upside down as they cool for a while. If the lid refuses to pop when you push the center then you are good.  If it decides to pop up and down even after you've boiled it you can either try again or shove that jar into the fridge and use it in the next few days. 

(That bowl full of tomatoes -- about 10 lbs -- made just about 3 quarts of tomato sauce.)

So, there you go.  As frost wanders its way into Utah don't let your tomatoes shiver to death, bring them in and with a bit of work you can enjoy fresh and delicious tomatoes all winter long (or as long as they last before you eat them all).

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