Essence of summer,
Rich, deep, red, contained in glass
to taste in winter.
I felt like a haiku. Do not judge. What do you expect when the name of this blog contains the word pretentious. I love looking at the bright red packed into a jar. It is so beautiful. I love it so much that it hurts me a little to open and use them. That goes away quickly after tasting the summer you placed in there.
Yes I started canning for health, taste and all of that. Once you can your own, it is hard to go back. I haven’t used commercial pasta sauce in a long time (I have bought it in a fix when away from my pantry) and rarely even by canned tomatoes. The can lining BPA issue helped solidify my annual canning ritual. However it has turned into much more than that. The process can be calming and emotionally satisfying. I can’t tell you how I feel when I have a counter top filled with beautiful bright red jars containing the essence of summer. The patience it takes might make the tomatoes taste that much sweeter when they are opened during those days when the sun sets too early.
This year I…shared… this ritual with my parents. In no way did I make them do the hard work. They were paid in love and tomatoes, both being tax exempt I am sure they were happy.
Out of a 20 lbs box we got 15 jars. This year I decided to use pint jars instead of quart. We would have gotten more but there were some smushed guys at the bottom of the box that didn’t make it. I think I could have had 18-20. A little note: when purchasing a box from a farm make sure you lay all the tomatoes out if they have been in the box a bit so the bottom ones have a chance to be scalded, peeled and placed in a jar for up to a year. A much better way to go then to be tossed into the compost pile… according to me anyway. I am sure the tomato might differ.
What to do with all these jars of tomatoes? Well some options include homemade marinara or other pasta sauces (I make a mean vodka sauce) which is so simple and tastes infinitely better than anything you will find already made in a jar. These tomatoes are sweeter and less acidic than even store bought canned tomatoes. Another little note: you might want to can those heirloom tomatoes or even other types but this year when we did the San Marzanos they were perfect. They contained very little moisture and fewer seeds than any other tomato. If you can not find or grow them then, plum tomatoes are the next best choice. I got mine from a local farm that grows organic fruit…. once again… the title of the blog has the word pretentious in it so it is your own fault if you are rolling your eyes right now.
You can use it in soups and stews as well. I crave tomatoes every now and again usually when it is rainy outside so it is nice to have them on hand. I hope that you will endeavor to make some for yourself to squirrel away when there are no more tomatoes growing in your backyard. It helps to have a few hands helping since it makes the tomatoes taste that much sweeter when you open them months later and remember the day you spend with your parents. I will probably choose not to remember them competing with each other to see who could peel the best and fastest…. or maybe that is the best part. Mmm… wonder where I get my competitive side from.