Saturday, August 4, 2012

Lots of Maters!

When life presents you with free ('please make them go away') tomatoes, you just don't say no.  No, you grin, toss them on the back of the truck and sing all the way home because you know your garden hasn't done squat this year and your panty is bare!  I was handed about 55 lbs the other day....
They ain't all pretty, several of them were split due to this drought we've been having, heck a good 2/3 of them weren't even ripe enough to do anything with, but that's ok.  I still made plans.

First up was the ripe few of them.  I jammed them.  Yes you read that correctly.  I.  Jammed.  Them.
Here's the recipe I found in my back up archives, I apologize, I'm not sure where I got it and can't give credit to who it's due.  I just know it was put in the "Try ASAP" file.

Tomato Jam 

5 pounds tomatoes, finely chopped
3 1/2 cups sugar
8 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon red chili flakes

Combine all ingredients in a large, non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce temperature to a simmer. Stirring regularly, simmer the jam until it reduces to a sticky, jammy mess. This will take between 1 and 1 1/2 hours.
When the jam has cooked down sufficiently, remove from heat and fill jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and twist on rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

Now I followed this recipe to the letter but after 3 hours my mass of tomato syrup never tried to jam so I tossed in a box of the no sugar needed pectin and that did it.  Well until after I processed them and they still haven't reset!  Oh well, better luck next time I guess!  Landed me 6 pints:

Then of course there was a need for tomato sauce.  Hubby's first thought when he saw the bags to tomatoes was "Are you making sauce tonight?"  He's been out of his red stuff for 3 months!  See I told you the pantry was low!
So my method for sauce madness was a bit different this year.  I was lucky enough to find an old Foley food mill at a flea market for 25 cents so I snagged it hoping it would save me some time.  With the tomatoes, once they were all mostly ripe, I cored and quartered them, took off any offending bits and tossed into my largest stock pot already on medium low heat.  I filled that sucker up to heaping, had to wait an hour and added even more before I got only half of them in there, it's 16 quarts!  So I had to do 2 batches!  These buggers were really juicy too so there was a lot of water to cook off.  Once it cooked down to mush, I took my handy stick blender to it to break up the larger chunks then started ladling the mush through the food mill.
Honestly, it took longer than I expected but it got done and I may do it this way again.  I let the strained mush cook with a few sprigs of rosemary, a few sprigs of oregano, a few bunches of basil, a little garlic, a whole onion, chopped, 3 bell peppers, chopped and a tiny bit of salt.  I let this cook down by at least half then took the stick blender to it again, added a half cup of balsamic vinegar and a half cup cooking sherry.  Let it cook down a little more and let hubby taste test since I can't (that dang allergy).

Then the canning started.  Added another tsp of the balsamic vinegar to each pint jar for the acidity and flavor, filled to 1/2" head space and water bath processed for 35 minutes.  Landed 20 pints, 3 of which have already disappeared!

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