Got Tomatoes?

We are finally scoring bowls of cherry to walnut sized tomatoes everyday.  We love them and gobble hoards of them up in the garden.  While I’m really just happy they are ripening at all, we aren’t getting enough for any heavy-duty preserving.

Annette at Sustainable Eats knows how to get things done.  Organizing large-scale organic produce buys from eastern Washington farmers is just one of the zillion things she does.  I secretly think Annette is 4 regular people.  I mean check this out. And she just wrote a book (that I can’t wait to get my hands on).  Has chickens. Goats. Kids.  Oh, and in the midst of all this she moved.  My head hurts thinking about it.

Anyway, I suddenly had 80 of tomatoes (in addition to the 3rd round of plum picking) and 5 pounds of eggplant.  Out of counterspace, against the clock and home alone, I got down to business. I was my own assembly line. I processed for about 10 hours straight that first day. Which, incidentally, if you are considering doing I would like to suggest footwear. Supportive, cushy footwear.  By no means should you attempt this barefoot. Your heels will never, ever forgive you.

grow and resist tomatoes

That is a lot of tomatoes!

What to do with all those tomatoes?  Besides several BLT’s (heavy on the T) here is what I did: Dehydrate, Slow Roast, Sauce, Ketchup, Jam, Soup and Whole.  So, yeah, basically a bit of everything.  At the same time. It is how I roll. Or how I roll now because canning this many tomatoes with an almost 4-year-old is impossible.  Or how I roll when it is hot: get it done in the shortest amount of time possible and cool the house down stat.

Erica at Northwest Edible recently wrote about advice she received from her mom: “Get your machines working for you!”  Well, let me tell you, I had them all going!

grow and resist tomatoes dehydrate


I love the dehydrator. I just got it this summer and am in love. Tomatoes, sliced in half, plopped on tray, plug it in and ignore for a long time.

grow and resist tomatoes roasted

And in the oven.

And roasting. Sliced in half, drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. And leave them in the oven at 200°F-ish for a long time. Overnight. Or all day.

Why both roast and dehydrate? They taste a bit different. The dehydrated tomatoes are like pops of intense tomato. I get them drier that I do the roasted tomatoes.  I don’t eat them plain but use them in things.  Roasting brings out a caramelized sweetness to the tomato that make it impossible to stop eating straight up.   I like roasted best but it is nice to have both on hand.

I freeze both in bags or jars.

grow and resist tomatoes

Chopping for jam

Tomato Jam you say? Not quite sure? Oh my goodness. Do it. This is a new one for me this year and is perhaps the tastiest thing I’ve ever canned. And the color of the finished product is stunning. Somehow it looks like rubies. It is so good I made a second batch tonight. Marisa at Food in Jars might just have changed my life with this one.

grow and resist tomatoes sauce

simmering down

A favorite from last year is Oh, Briggsy’s Pizza Sauce.  Stuff is fantastic.  I follow the recipe except I don’t can mine. I put it in bags and freeze it. I don’t know why. It feels easier somehow. And I have a full freezer, so why not?

The lovely Ladyfriend bought me a food mill (OXO good grips)last year and the sauce was my first foray into food mill love.  Where has this been all my life?  Yep, it rocks.  No one is paying me to say that.  (But, you know, OXO, if you are out there, I totally wouldn’t turn it down.)  The thing is amazing.

grow and resist tomatoes sauce

Filling the bags. I knew I wanted pint size so used the jar to hold the bag in place and for rough measuring.

grow and resist tomatoes sauce

Ready for freezing after squeezing the air out.

Another favorite from last year was What Julia Ate’s Ketchup.   And a post that revolutionized all future blanching. Ice packs people! Down with ice cubes! Up with packs!  And again, I love my food mill.  Now it looks like regular ketchup texture! More food mill love!

grow and resist tomatoes ketchup

Ketchup going on the crockpot. All the later-on spices & such are next to it waiting. See? Organized assembly line.

grow and resist tomatoes ketchup spices

Pretty ketchup spices

I made some of Kaela at Local Kitchen’s Roasted Tomato & Eggplant Soup.  Yum! It was really good (and I’m a sucker for anything with chickpeas) and I froze the leftovers, so it is kind of preserving.  While I made that I also roasted up all the rest of the eggplant I got and froze that too. I wanted to make some Parsi Eggplant Pickle but I forgot! I know! Grr. I’m grumpy at myself about that too.

And I did a bunch of whole, blanched paste tomatoes.


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17 Responses to Got Tomatoes?

  1. I have the OXO food mill: it rocks the shizzle. And I made ketchup for the first time this year: also shizzle-worthy. We shall see if I manage to get the recipe up for tomatoes completely disappear…

    Looks like a fabullous haul! I just took the last 6 lbs of tomatoes out of the dehydrator myself. Whew!

  2. Whew is right – great job!

    I grow beefsteak varieties for fresh eating and the occasional tomato sauce. My trouble usually lies with keeping up with just one cherry tomato plant as they produce like crazy. This year I’ve done pretty well though – you can read about it here:

  3. Inder says:

    Ooh. Yum. Like you, I think we’ll be eating our garden tomatoes this year, rather than preserving them, but I’m just happy to get some yummy ones to eat! I haven’t decided if I’ll be preserving some farmer’s market tomatoes … September and October are always such crazy-busy months for me!

  4. Traveling Mommy says:

    That is very impressive Meg – and hopefully, we will get to taste some of the goodies!!

  5. hejemonster says:

    Meg is one tomato processing wonder! And, I think it was more like 12 hours that first day…weren’t you still up at like 1 a.m.? Way to go Meg! Thanks for all the tomato fabulousness!

  6. Stacy says:

    Oh my goodness, it hadn’t even occurred to me that I could use my food mill to perfect my ketchup too!?!?! This tool is going to be the best!

  7. This year was my most successful tomato crop. I dried my cherry tomatoes the old fashioned way – in the sun – but I really want to get my hands on a good dehydrator. Lots of times I lose tomatoes because they stick to the cookie sheet or get stolen by a passing bird! Thanks for the info about the food mill. I’m adding it to my Christmas Wish List!


  8. tigress says:

    love this post! love that you got down with your preserving self for 10 hours! you go!
    (I also love that K said shizzle – but that’s beside the point) I have an oxo mill too and I love it!

    …I really wish you would have made the eggplant pickle tho! 🙂

  9. Memaw Elise says:

    Meg, you are amazing. Everything sounded soooo good. Can’t wait to try a few tastes!

  10. Barb says:

    I’ll second the tomato jam! Wonderful stuff. I just finished my second batch of the season. It’s good on pork, chicken, or hamburgers. My husband even ate it on toast which I didn’t like.

  11. lynn says:

    Great job with all those maters! My husband planted 12 or so tomato plants this year, so I have been doing many of the same things you’ve been doing — but fortunately, as I don’t have 80 pounds at once 😉 I get to spread it out, making just one or two batches of something each day. We will be so pleased with ourselves in mid-winter, when we get to pull out all the home-preserved goodness. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Green Bean says:

    Darn it! I forgot about jam!!! And now my tomatoes are just about done. I’ll have to bookmark this post for next year.

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