Thursday, September 16, 2010

Transforming Tomatoes

This marks the second year of gardening for us. We tried some different crops, and it ended up being a completely different growing season than the last chilly summer we had. This year we failed miserably with green pepper, eggplant, watermelon, and broccoli. The girl got to eat a handful of peas fresh from the garden. We enjoyed two meals with our own corn on the cob. We picked, ate, and shared eight awesome cantaloupes. We ate all six of our zucchini (we STILL have some frozen from last year's bounty). We ate garden fresh beans with a handful of salads and as a side for a few dinners. We had so much lettuce that most of it went to waste. As for cucumbers, we made some into pickles, sold at least 25 for a quarter each, gave many away, and ate as many as we could. We haven't dug up our carrots yet, but we are optimistic!

But the tomatoes - the tomatoes - are almost overwhelming. They are seemingly never ending; every time I went to the garden to "just look", I always came back with arms overflowing with sweet cherries, juicy rutgers, and hearty beefsteaks. I was set on canning this year, until I learned that freezing tomato sauce and chunks works just as well with much less work. Really, we have enough work around here with these kiddos!

This is only a fraction of the cherries and (smaller) rutgers. We washed, dried, chopped and froze in bags to be thawed for lasagna and pizza toppings.We blanched, peeled, cored, seeded, and boiled down at least 20 beefsteaks to make this sauce.
We mixed in 4 packets of spaghetti sauce spices and let it simmer for about 4 hours, tasting along the way - so yummy! We let it cool before spooning into freezer bags.
We have eight quart size bags in all - four with sauce and four with chunks. I think we'll be able to do this same process at least one more time this summer, while still enjoying as many fresh tomatoes as we like!

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