Tuesday, October 20, 2015

100 pounds of tomatoes

This last week, I actually had to take time off of homeschooling to get my canning done.  Don't worry, the kids worked on their handwriting, math and grammar workbooks in the kitchen (if you can see all the clutter in the background - that's it!) while I canned away, but I couldn't do our history, bible and read-alouds or my tomatoes would go to waste. 
 
You might wonder where I got so many tomatoes.  I'd love to say I grew them, but that's just not the case!  It is so dry here in the summer, that it's difficult to get tomatoes to grow nicely.  BUT, we have a guy down in Lucille, ID area who's know as Tomato Tom!!! He has tomato growing perfected, and you can pick your own tomatoes for only $.50 a pound!  Why grow your own, when it's so cheap and fresh down the road?  Each year, we run down there on a weekend and pick with the kids about 100 pounds of tomatoes for the winter months.
 
I like to have enough salsa and canned tomatoes stocked up for the winter, and then I usually try another recipe out of my favorite canning book:       Last year, I tried pizza sauce, which has great flavor, but is really runny, so it's not exactly what I'm looking for.  This year, I thought I try homemade tomato soup.  I was pondering ketchup, so maybe I'll do it next year.
Canning tomatoes whole is so easy and quick.  I wonder why people don't do this themselves!  In fact, in my opinion, it is easy to can them whole and then make my own sauce when I need it.  To make sauce, I just pour a jar of whole tomatoes in a pan, and then simmer it with a package of spaghetti sauce mix in it.  These mixes, I get for less than $.50 each when they go on sale.  The kids will even make their own spaghetti sauce this way!  You could add your own spices if you prefer, but I like the ease of not thinking about it.
 
All of these recipes you can get from my favorite canning book, except my recipe for Dad's Favorite Salsa, Ball Complete Canning Book.  I love this one because all you do is sterilize your jars, add lemon juice and salt in the bottom, and then fill up the jar with peeled tomatoes.  All the liquid you see in the jar is from the tomatoes!  No added water and so easy!
 
This is our oldest and favorite salsa, which we've fondly named Dad's Salsa. The reason is, that it usually turns out pretty mild and therefore, it's the only salsa that Dad loves!  I got this recipe from a hostess probably over 15 years ago on a handwritten card.  I've used this same card as my recipe - it is almost beyond repair, but I know what I need when it's salsa time!  Here it is:
 

Dad's Salsa

  • 5 Cups peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 Cups Chopped Onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Cup chopped green peppers
  • 1 jalapeƱo pepper - if none use 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 C. vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt

Combine, boil and simmer for 20 minutes.  You can refrigerate, freeze or can.  I love to can this in a water bath for 20 minutes in Pint jars. 
 
Note: This does make a small batch, so I triple or quadruple it until it fits in my larges pot.                
I heard about making tomato soup and canning it last year, so I was completely taken with trying this year!  My warning for this recipe, is that there seems to be some debate over weather this one is ok to can because of the butter and flour in it.  Well, it tastes so wonderful, I think you'll agree with me that it's worth the chance.   Mr. Right thinks it tastes "just like Campbell's Soup from the can, but better!"  I searched this one out on Pinterest.  Here's the site that I found with the recipe I used: Canned Tomato Soup Concentrate 
My kids and I love a little bit more spice to our salsa, so this is the our Zesty Salsa that we make.  It comes again from my favorite book, Ball Complete Canning Book.  The only variation of this recipe that I do, is add a more spice pepper.  My oldest son has a knack for coming home with some really spicy peppers from different people, so that's what I use!  I love the chunkiness of this salsa.  You need the scoop chips to eat it! 
 
Well, that was this year's 100 Pounds of Tomatoes.  What suggestions do you have for the future for me?  I love to try something new!