Saturday, August 25, 2012

Local Harvest

I am so surprised at the amount of people who don't take advantage of local farmers and produce!  We heard about a place called "Tomato Toms" and just had to check it out. (Especially since it seems nearly impossible to grow tomatoes in our town.  I think it's something about the elevation)  We took a Sunday afternoon to drive to explore local produce and find Tomato Tom.

This drive, I thought for sure that no one could be possibly growing anything on such dry land (see the background to the first picture, below).  Then we drove up a scary driveway and look what we found:
Tomato Toms was a fantastic sizable garden of u-pick heaven!  We picked 60 pounds of tomatoes in 10 minutes.  Then took about twenty more minutes to figure out just what onions and peppers we needed to go with our tomatoes.

The tomatoes weren't store perfect, as in no blemishes or anything, but they were beautiful and tasted wonderful off the vine!  I don't normally  care for tomatoes fresh, so that's a huge compliment.  The best part, was that the tomatoes were only $.50/lb.

We canned 19 quarts of tomatoes.  I love the No Liquid Added recipe to can tomatoes.  I don't like my tomatoes to be runny, which seems to happen when you add the boiling water to it.  This recipe literally puts only lemon juice and salt in the bottom and fill with peeled tomatoes.  The downfall of this recipe is that it has to water boil 90 minutes.
Of course, one of the things we always make from tomatoes, is salsa!  The kids and I love a Zesty Salsa, but Mr. Right doesn't like spicy, so we made his salsa, too.  We ended up with eight pints of Zesty Salsa and five pints of Dad's Salsa.Don't they look beautiful in the jar!  I just love to look at the pictures of both the salsa all ready to cook down and the then in the jar.  Give me a sick satisfaction that it is a job well-done.

While we were out hunting for new food sources, locally, we did find a family orchard that we had heard about too.  Unfortunately,the father that used to run the orchard has passed away, and it has not been kept up or sprayed.  The good news is that they still have beautiful and delicious fruit, it just didn't get sprayed or watered as it should have. 
In a way, for us, this makes it almost organic - I know, not certified organic, but hey, this year it didn't get chemicals.  They were allowing a U-Pick in the orchards for only $.50/lb.

Santa Anna Plums - so yummy!
We found peaches and plums that were so yummy, we were eating and getting sweet, yummy juice all over ourselves as we picked!I decided to try a new recipe for Summer salsa, which included pears, peaches and tomatoes to make.  We made six pints of these to try this winter.

Of course, this last week, has been canning like crazy.  All in all, we ended up with:

  • 19 quarts Tomatoes
  • 8 pints Zesty Salsa
  • 5 pints Dad's Salsa
  • 6 pints Summer Salsa
  • 9 quarts Peaches
  • 14 half-pints peach jam
  • 32 half-pints plum jam
  • 4 pints Peach Salsa (which is also a new recipe for us and has no tomatoes in it!)

Whew!  It's been a busy week for us, but for less than $100 in fruit and vegetables we got a total of 97 jars of food for the year!  That's about a $1 a jar of yummy goodness: PRICELESS!

Here's the cookbook that we exclusively used for all of these recipes: 
If you'd like me to post specific recipes, please comment below, which ones you'd like and I'll post them this next week for you.

Please check out those blogs I love to link up to in the right column.  I love to hear what you think.  Do you can local produce?