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If you caught my recap of our garden this year, you know why I needed to come up with and idea of what to do with a ridiculous amount of tomatoes.
We had so many amazingly delicious tomatoes this year, but we were in over our heads! In the past we have given lots of tomatoes away, but Kevin and I wanted to see if there was a way to make use of them ourselves since we are pinching pennies a little tighter right now.
We thought we had bought ourselves some time when we picked all the green tomatoes a few weeks ago and pulled the plants out of the ground. It was so nice to have a break from all the buckets of produce we were picking. So we thought.
When you pick boxes of green tomatoes, it’s really best to have someplace cool to keep them so they don’t ripen or rot so fast. We have no such place, so we slid the boxes under the piano for safekeeping.
One day about a week after our great garden cleanup, my mom peeked under the piano and commented on all the lovely RED tomatoes.
So much for a break from dealing with garden goods.
Thankfully we had already come up with a wonderful plan of what to do with a ridiculous amount of tomatoes.
So what’s so wonderful about this plan?
There’s very little front end work. We are not blanching, peeling, and seeding tomatoes. We do the bare minimum work on the front end and fine tune our plan later.
We’re not limited to certain varieties of tomatoes. Sure, plum tomatoes might be ideal for canning, but we throw in all kinds of heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, pear tomatoes, plum tomatoes…whatever is ripe, it goes into the pot.
We can decide what to do with it later. This is like tomato triage. Is it ripe? Then it goes in the pot. We don’t have to decide if we’re making marinara, sauce, paste, or chunks. We don’t even have to decide if we’re canning or freezing at this point. We are just preventing those tomatoes from growing black fuzz and disintegrating into the cardboard boxes.
What do we do with this stuff?
We’ve used it to make a delicious, bistro-worthy tomato soup.
We’ve pureed it and strained it for use as tomato sauce.
It can be used in place of canned diced tomatoes.
It can be seasoned and eaten like stewed tomatoes.
And much more!
What to do with a ridiculous amount of tomatoes:
We start by piling ripe tomatoes in the kitchen sink and washing them off.
Next we use a tomato corer to cut out the stems and remove any bad spots.
Then we toss the tomato into a large stockpot. It’s fine if the tomato bursts; we want it to release all of its juicy goodness.
Fill the pot as full as you dare. Ideally the lid should still kind of fit on the pot.
And then we take a long, sharp knife and poke at those tomatoes. We want to make it easy for them to release all their juices.
We cook the tomatoes over medium heat with the lid on for about 30 minutes. The tomatoes will burn if there isn’t enough liquid at the bottom of the pan, so we cover the pan and let condensation do its thing.
After about 30 minutes, we uncover the pan and turn the heat down slightly. Keep cooking for about six hours or until the sauce is the thickness you like. Stirring it every once in a while helps break up the tomatoes and prevent burning.
Once the tomatoes have cooked down to the consistency I like (about 1/3-1/4 of the volume we started with), I pour it into a large plastic container and let it cool before refrigerating.
You are more than welcome to go ahead and deal with the sauce as soon as it is done, but I like to wait until the next day since it’s usually later on when the sauce is done.
The next day I either can or freeze my lovely tomato reduction.
Sterilize quart jars. While jars are sterilizing, warm up tomato sauce (if it was refrigerated).
Place 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid (I use fruit fresh) in the bottom of each quart jar.
Fill jars with hot tomato sauce, leaving about 1/2 inch head space.
Wipe off rim of jars with clean cloth and top with sterilized lids and bands.
Process in water bath canner for 50 minutes. Adjust time for altitude if needed; we are in the 3001-6000 foot range so I processed the jars for 50 minutes according to this chart.
Remove jars from water bath and place upright on clean towel to cool.
Allow tomato sauce to cool.
Freeze sauce 4 cups to a gallon freezer bag or 2 cups to a quart freezer bag, whatever volume will work best for you. Be sure to make use of my favorite tools that make freezing produce EASY!
Place filled bags on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid. This keeps the sauce from freezing in an awkward, difficult shape.
When sauce is frozen solid, remove the cookie sheet.
How do you like to get rid of an overabundance of tomatoes?
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