Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Processing Tomatoes (picture heavy)

Slow garden? Having the same problem as I am, with the small amounts of vegetables come on in the garden and not enough to make a batch of spaghetti sauce or salsa to can? I have a solution to this minor problem. My solution is to process those small batches of vegetables and freeze till you collect enough to make that special sauce.

Before you actually begin working with the tomatoes you will need to gather some equipment to get started.

Equipment Needed
Large pot: to boil water
Large bowl:  for ice water
Large bowl:  for shocked tomatoes
Large slop bowl: to discard skins and cores
Paring knife
Large freezer container
Measuring cup
Food processor
Slotted spoon

Lay out equipment in a similar order. I don't have much counter space so this is how I lay out the scald/shock process. Then after I get all tomatoes through this I move to the kitchen table to clean and core them. If you have counter space beside your stove you might want to put the ice water on the right side of the boiling water then your bowl for already processed tomatoes beside that. Making an assembly line.

Once you have gathered and laid out the equipment as described you can begin processing the tomatoes as follows:
1. Wash The Tomatoes: Thoroughly wash all tomatoes. I like to use a wash clothe and cool water.

2. Cut slit in each tomato: Small slit on blossom end will work fine. I use a serrated knife such as an old steak knife. You don't have to cut deep just enough to get through the skin.

3. Briefly scald the tomatoes in boiling hot water. Heat water to boiling and add cut tomatoes in small batches of 4 to 6 tomatoes. Leave tomatoes in water from 30 seconds to 90 seconds. Judging how long you must leave the tomatoes in the hot water is kind of an art. You will quickly learn how long to leave them. It all depends on size and ripeness. You must remember you are scalding them not cooking them.

4. Transfer tomatoes to ice water. Remove tomatoes with slotted spoon to ice water. Leave tomatoes in water till they are cool to the touch approx a 60 to 90 seconds. This process loosens the skins of the tomatoes which makes for easy peeling.

Then transfer to second bowl.
 You want to see the cracking of the skins, but not all tomatoes do crack which is okay.

5. Remove skins and cores: Throw the skins, cores, bad spots and any hard places in tomatoes where the core is located in the slop bowl.

At this point you should have a bowl of peeled tomatoes. 

6. Decision time for your peeled tomatoes.  For myself I'm making salsa at this point. So I need my tomatoes chopped. I do this by putting them threw the food processor. I pulse them a few times and they are chopped enough.

I'm at the point in my garden where I don't have enough of everything to make a batch of salsa. So I'm measuring the fresh garden ingredients and putting them in freezer containers until I get what I need. The next few pictures are of the measured ingredients ready for the freezer.

 Finally, make sure you keep track of what and how much ingredients you have in your containers. I keep a running tally on the side of the freezer for each container. When I have enough I will thaw container by allowing it to sit on table till I can get the tomatoes to break up some. Then add to stock pot with added spices for recipe and continue the process for cooking down and canning.

This is the way I do it and it works for me. Please let me know how you manage your garden fresh vegetables for canning when you don't have quite enough.

~ Farmgirl

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