Despite the drought last year, we were blessed with a bountiful harvest – including tomatoes.
Here’s a snapshot of what we do with our maters. It is a true family effort – or I don’t know how I could do all.
When we first started doing this, I was COMPLETELY AMAZED at how many tomatoes it takes to create the same amount of tomato based products we used to buy from the store. We realized that we COULD NOT grow enough to provide the same “loot” in our pantry for one year. Because of that realization, we’ve scaled back on how much of it we eat, and we do our best to find healthier tomato sauces that we buy limited quantities of for our homemade pizzas. Thus reducing the amount of money we need to spend off-farm. This way, our energy goes toward the less time-consuming efforts like water bath canning whole tomatoes, juice, and our version of v(egetable)-8. We do make several canners full of tomato sauce, but can them in pints & they are treated like “gold”, lol. (I think last season furnished 10 pints for our pantry…) Normally, we focus on canning the whole tomatoes + juice for both ourselves and Mike’s parents, and his mom cooks down & cans the tomato sauce for all of us. (Group efforts are soooo nice!) LOTS of hours of stirring while it cooks down to the desired thickness, makes me feel a little protective of tomato sauce…and being SUPER conscious of not wasting it. These are good lessons that we are thankful to have learned.
The biggest bulk of our maters are canned as whole tomatoes. (We are big soup/stew eaters, and we like a marinara sauce once in awhile, too. Whole tomatoes are perfect for those recipes.) Once the maters have been washed, we drop them in boiling water until the skin breaks – usually not more than one minute. Then we plunge them into ice water for quick cooling. The boys like this job & usually bicker over whose turn it is.
My “station” is usually as the “skinner/chunker”. None of my boys like the messiness of this part, so by default, the job is mine. I don’t mind, though…my hands might be yucky, but I can still bark orders pretty good, lol…
Mike is usually the “floater” and “jar-stufferer”.
Last season we canned 48 quarts of whole tomatoes for our pantry and about half that for mom & dad next door.
When we are making juice/sauce & our v(egetable)-8, we don’t remove the skins. Just chunk the veggies so they fit into the juice attachment for our mixer, and it separates the seeds/skins for us. This is another task the boys don’t mind doing.
Last season we canned 8 quarts of our v(egetable)-8 juice and 22 quarts of tomato juice for ourselves + some for next door.
We also make several large batches of salsa & freeze it in 1 cup portions. Most of it gets
devoured eaten fresh, but I think we managed to freeze 15 cups or so.