Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Freezing Tomatoes and other resources for food preservation

Here on the farm we're just coming into our summer bounty. With all the beautiful food around us: tomatoes blushing red, new zucchinis bursting from the vine, cucumbers coming to size and lettuce growing and growing, it's hard to think about the times of year when all these things just don't grow.

In the past our mothers and grandmothers found ways to preserve food to enjoy during leaner winter months when harvests were scarce or nonexistent. Preserving: pickling, jamming, canning, and drying is coming back into vogue as the economy encourages people to find ways to save, and folks become more excited about eating locally produced products. Ball Jar has seen sales of canning jars go up by 30% since 2007.

Some of our neighbors are well ahead of the trend: many folks on the island have been canning and preserving for years. And we know many more of you are interested in getting started. We had a question on the blog the other day about preserving foods, so we've put together some resources to help.

In the coming months, we hope to compile the wisdom of other folks on the island to give advice on island-friendly techniques for storing onions, garlic, and other veggies to keep throughout the year.

Freezing Tomatoes

Here at the farm, we like to freeze extra tomatoes to use throughout the year in soups and sauces. It's a simple process that takes just an afternoon or evening to process the pounds of extra tomatoes we harvest and can't use up.
1) Rinse your tomatoes well, cut out the stem area and discard. You can leave the tomatoes whole, or cut them in chunks, according to your preference. (We leave them whole.)
2) Place the tomatoes in a large soup pot with nothing else. Bring them to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer them for about an hour, until they are mushy.
3) Put the tomato mixture through a food mill, and discard the pulp that remains. (It should be only a small amount.)
4) Put the tomato mixture in individual glass jars (we use quart-size ball jars with plastic lids) and set on the counter to cool. Then put in the freezer. This should last at least a year.

Other Resources
The San Juan Island library is a great resource for books on canning and preserving vegetables. Check out books near call number 641.4.

Here are some key references to check out (* available at the library):

You can also check out these sites online:

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