Sunday, September 29, 2013

100 Pounds of Tomatoes - Canned

Two years ago I had decided that I wanted to can enough tomato sauce to last our family for the year. Of course I decided to do this when it was winter and there were no fresh tomatoes to be found. So, I told myself that that would be my goal for the summer. Well, summer came and with it I was HUGE pregnant. It was also a drought. I made the wise choice to sit with my feet up instead of can any amount of tomatoes.

Fast forward to this summer. I am not pregnant, there is not a drought, and there is still the I made a small batch of tomato sauce to sort of get the hang of it. We have a farm share through a local farm and when we started getting lots of tomatoes I saved them. My test batch was a success. It was easy but time consuming.
I never actually weighed this bunch at all, but this amount of peeled and seeded tomatoes gave me only 4 half pints. I was then looking around trying to find something to do with all the skins, cores, and seeds (I really hate to have any waste) and I found that you can process them the same as the meaty part of the tomato. You may have to spend a few minutes pushing it all through a strainer but there is quite a bit of flesh left on the back of the skins. So, into a pot all that went...
And I started cooking it down....
Then I pushed it though a strainer.....
It was thick smooth and perfect. I ended up getting another 4 half pints out of the skin, seeds, and cores.

Now that my test batch was such a success...I sat down and did some tomato math. Trying to estimate how much tomato sauce one family might use in a year. Then trying to figure out how many tomatoes are needed to result in said amount of sauce.

I started by looking at my cooking habits. I make something tomato based a minimum of once a week...sometimes two or three times. So, I knew I needed at least 52 pints (most of my recipes use a pint). A bushel of tomatoes is 53 lbs. and I found many differing opinions on how much sauce you could get out of that. Lots of it has to do with how thick you want the sauce. I decided that 2 bushels would be a good place to start.

I was smart enough to realize that pushing 100 lbs of tomatoes through a hand held strainer would be silly, so I bought a food mill. As for tomatoes, I found a decent price at one of the local farm stands. $18 for a half bushel. I called and put in my order. My tomatoes were ready for pickup on a gloomy rainy Sunday.
Holy.Crap. That is a lot of tomatoes.

I decided to just skip the blanching, peeling, squeezing step on my first go around since I planned on processing all that stuff anyway.

Big huge fail. It had to cook down was actually faster to blanch, peel, and squeeze the tomatoes and process the 'waste' stuff later.

So, I started processing tomato sauce...and I kept processing tomato sauce. Finally, a week later...after staying up till midnight or later every night...I had 64 pints of tomato sauce and 16 pints of salsa.
Oh, and the jars on the left in a different color are apple sauce. My sister has some apple trees and she brought me a couple of boxes of apples.

I also did a small batch of peaches earlier in the summer.

I still want to make a batch of salsa verde with some tomatillos and some more applesauce, but essentially, my canning is done for the year. I am quite excited to have so much yummy goodness for my family for throughout the year. I will try to go bigger next year and do some diced tomatoes and some other veggies.

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