One of the bummers about being injured and on crutches right now is that this is peak harvest season. Normally I’d be running around to the farmers’ markets to augment my CSA share and garden crops, buying up tomatoes and other goodies at their best and cheapest, and stocking up for the winter. Not possible right now. However, there has been enough bounty from CSA and the garden for me to do a little stocking up.
This is the flower and pod behind it of one of the burgundy okra plants I’m growing: I blanch the pods in boiling water for three minutes and then freeze them. It looks like I will get enough off of the three plants I’m growing to make a big pot of gumbo for company some time this winter. Next year I’m going to grow more of them just because they are gorgeous plants and seem to be immune to the various bugs and mildews that abound here…and because I like gumbo. The dehydrator has been on drying celery and tomatoes. I’ve got about half as many tomatoes dried as I’d like to have. My mom is coming to visit for a week, and I am so sending her on farmers’ market runs for me!
I think I’ve got enough jars of ratatouille put up for the year, though if more eggplant shows up in my CSA share, I’ll probably can some more. I’ve pickled plenty of carrots. And I’m about 2/3 of the way to having as many jars of canned tomatoes as I need.
Last year during The 250 I realized that if I ran out of my home-canned tomatoes as had always happened before, I wouldn’t be able to run out to the store for any. Before that, my favorite storebought brand was Muir Glen Organic Fireroasted. So I figured out a way to make my own fireroasted tomatoes. They are so much tastier than the regular ones that I’m fireroasting all of my canned tomatoes this year.
Step One Skewer a tomato with a fork and hold it over the flame of a gas stove burner (sorry, electric won’t work). As the skin starts to char and split, rotate the fork to expose all sides of the tomato to the fire. Remove from fork into a bowl to cool. Repeat with the next tomato (I usually get all four burners on my stove going at the same time so that I don’t spend all day on this step). During the fireroasting, the tomatoes carmelize slightly, which intensifies their flavor. Now you’ve got something that looks like this:
Step Two When cool enough to handle, rub the skins off of the tomatoes. They will come off easily. Don’t worry if you don’t get every single bit off.
Step Three Cut off the stem part of the tomato and discard.Â Coarsely chop the tomatoes. Squish most of the seeds and the gel that surrounds the seeds out and discard (you could skip this part, but you’d end up with a very watery, seedy product, which is not what we’re after).
Step Four Pack into pint jars, adding 2 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice or 1/4 tsp. citric acid to each jar. Leave at least half an inch head room. Screw on two-piece canning lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 40 minutes. Remove jars from water and let cool completely before moving them. Even though you squished out the seedy gel, there will still be enough water in the tomatoes that at first the pulp will separate from the liquid and look like this:
Get the book: Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes by Leda Meredith