It’s August in New Jersey, and if you aren’t eating three square meals of tomatoes a day you are doing something wrong. Okay, I’m exaggerating. However, as high season for tomatoes is upon us and we are picking daily. And natural, we are eating them at least one meal per day. We sell our prettiest tomatoes, but that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with a split or cracked one, they just need to be eaten sooner. And with that, here is a recap of our weekend of tomatoes.
Nothing says Summer in Jersey like a sandwich with warm tomatoes picked just off the vine. Make it a balanced meal with a few dollops of pesto or ricotta – or both!
In celebration of our beautiful Violet coming into our lives we are calling this year’s batch, Violet’s Blend. And because she graces us with the occasional nap to give us time to preserve summer’s bounties, our first twelve pints of tomato sauce are under our belts!
While I would by no means consider myself an expert canner, we have been preserving tomatoes for about a decade now. I think tomatoes are the easiest thing to preserve and they are one of the most gratifying things to open up in the dead of winter. In case you were wondering how easy it is, this is how we preserve our tomatoes in a hot water bath:
- Peel tomatoes. You can skip this step if you don’t mind the skins in your sauce, they won’t hurt you, I just prefer my sauce without the curled up skins. We have a food mill that cranks the meat of the tomato out quick, but you can also skin them the old fashioned way by dropping them in a pot of boiling water for a minute, and then dropping them in a bowl of ice cold water-the skins peel off super easy.
- We cooked down a big pot of peeled tomatoes for about an hour to thicken them up and evaporate off some of the water. You can skip this step too if you don’t mind watery sauce-you can always thicken it up when you use it down the road.
- Sterilize your jars. Boil clean Ball Jars for about 20 minutes. Rings and seals I just dip in the boiling water as I am closing up the jars-you are not supposed to boil the seals because this could damage them and prevent them from sealing correctly.
- Fill the sterilized jars with your tomato sauce! Make sure to leave a ½ inch of head space at the top to give them room to expand during the sealing process. Fill them too much and they might burst. Each pint gets a teaspoon of lemon juice to guarantee they are acidic enough to prevent spoiling. *Make sure your sauce and your jars are approximately the same temperature when filling. You don’t want to put cold sauce into hot jars-this could crack them.
- Screw on clean lids and boil for 40 minutes. *Note this time works for us at sea level, if you are at a higher elevation I would check with a Ball Canning Guide for processing times.
Two good websites I would recommend you consult when canning are: www.pickyourown.org and www.freshpreserving.com.
Yes you can make tomato Jam! It is great on crusty bread and I like to use it as a substitute for ketchup. We made tomato jam a few years ago and we just ran out. I roughly followed this recipe http://pickyourown.org/tomatopreserves.htm with a few changes. They said the spices were optional, so I substituted what I had on hand: smoked paprika, cayenne pepper & ginger. And I skipped the pectin. I think it gives more of a store bought jelly appearance and I didn’t think it was necessary. The jam came out great and I will definitely make another batch later this season.
I am really enjoying this habit we are getting back into of a weekly pizza night. Of course John does all the work, and all I have to do is agree to it, so it really is the perfect meal! Check out this beautiful pie he created with our Black Krim, Pineapple, Nebraska Wedding and Wapsipinicon Peach Heirlooms! This time we topped it with a mix of barrel Feta from the Stockton Market and a few dollops of Fulper Farm’s Ricotta:
For more info on how to make your own pizza, check out this recipe: strawberry pizza
And in case you missed one of our greatest creations, click here for tomato pie!
Have a great week! Tiffany, John & Violet