Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Save the 'Maters!!!

Okay, let's go back to our "Regularly Scheduled Yammering," shall we? (sorry 'bout the Bummer Post!)...

Let's blather about the GARDEN (Yay!!! Much Happier!).

So Monday afternoon, I wandered out to My Li'l Slice of Heaven to see what-all was ready for picking and I gathered the following:

Lots of Stupices. Those are the little round red tomatoes. They're a Czechoslovakian, cool-season, heirloom variety - on a potato-leafed vine - and they have been a *very* consistent producer all summer long. Consistent, but not obnoxious. Pretty-much, I'd been harvesting appx half-a-dozen 'maters per day which is enough for snacking and salads, but not overwhelming... Stupices are now on my "Must Grow Every Year" list!

I also picked a couple of as-yet-unidentified green tomatoes (unripe - but they were getting dangerously close to the ground so I figured I'd try to ripen them indoors). A couple of big fat pinky-tomatoes with green shoulders, and a funk-a-delic lookin' tie-dyed red-and-green variety of salad tomato.

And a yellow peach (Yes, you can look forward to a couple of weeks of me p*ssing-and-moaning about "What-the-hell-am-I-gonna-do-with-all-these-@#$%-peaches?!!")

Okay, I know I'd mentioned that I couldn't remember what I planted where. But thankfully I was able to pull-up the Santa Clara Master Gardeners Spring Sale list and kinda/sorta figure out what's what - at least for those 'maters that have ripened (I still have 2-3 plants that I haven't been able to identify yet!!!).

Please-to-excuse the crappy pictures, but uploading from Droid is just *soooo* much easier than using the "real" camera! (I mean, Gawd, I have to FIND the cord, and PLUG IT IN to the computer, and DOWNLOAD the pictures, then PICASA them into submission, blah-blah-blah!) (Yes, I *am* lazy!)

Mater Porn:

I present to you: Carbon (the two bigger, pinker 'maters in the back)
and Black Zebra (the psychedelic tie-dyed model in the front).
Ain't they purdy?!!

Okay, so anyway, I ended up gathering Stupice tomatoes *without* snacking or making salads for a couple-three days and the next thing I knew, I was overrun with ripe tomatoes!!!

Uh oh!

And my neighbors have veggie gardens of their own, so it's not like I could pawn them off on them! What to do? What to do?!! Why consult Google, of course! (Like Duhhh!).

Turns out that, yes, you can "freeze" tomatoes, but you need to peel 'em first (which involves blanching in boiling water and plunging them into an ice-water bath), then you gotta de-seed 'em (which involves scooping out the innards with a spoon or whatever). And since this was the middle of a Work-Day, I just didn't want to devote that much time to my "preservation efforts." I decided to make fresh-squeezed, plain ol tomato sauce instead...

Time to break-out the WTDs (Weapons of Tomato Destruction):

I had purchased this little gizmo - a European Tomato Press - a couple-three years ago. I'd spotted it at a Flower/Garden Show, so I picked up a catalog from Lee Valley Tools and ordered it. Well, my tomato harvest for the last couple of years has been... Err... Non-existent! So it's been sitting in the garage, unused all this time! Thankfully, I was able to find it and FINALLY put it to the test!

Note: Amazon carries it too (as does Williams Sonoma). I've read reviews where folks have complained that it leaks tomato gooze out of the handle. And yes, it does, but it's nothing that a couple sheets of paper-towel can't soak up. I think, for the price, and for the ease and speed of processing fresh tomatoes, it's a very handy item to have!

Anyhooooo... I had appx 2-1/2# of Stupice tomatoes to dispense with, and about a half-an-hour to accomplish said feat. I pulled the stems off the maters, rinsed 'em, then sliced 'em in quarters...

Mmmmm! Don't they look TASTY?!

Then I fed 'em into the hopper and turned the crank...

Eeeeek! Nnnnoooooo!!!

Sauce splooges out into the bowl to the left, and the seeds and skin blorp out into the bowl to the right. Like thus:

I ended up feeding the glorpy seed/skin stuff back through the hopper 2 more times to squeeze out all of the goodness. The rest went to feed my Roly Pig Composter.

Although I bet the dogs would have happily snarfed it up!

Freshly Squozen Tomato Sauce

It *is* a bit runny. Stupices are more like salad tomatoes. Romas or Paste Tomatoes probably would've been better, but you make-do with what you've got, right?!

All done and ready for the freezer!

2-1/2# of tomatoes yielded 1 quart of sauce. I stuffed a Ziploc Baggie into a large drinking glass (and curled the edges of the bag out over the lip of the cup), then poured the sauce in. I made sure to squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing the bag. If I had more time, I probably would have dragged out my vacuum-sealer dealy-bobber and done it properly.

Tossed it in the freezer, and now I'll have Fresh 'Mater Sauce to use in the middle of winter if I want to make a "fresh" spaghetti sauce.

All told, this took me about half-an-hour to complete (and that's including breaking-down and washing the Tomato Press). Not bad...

In the next day or two, I hope to harvest more 'maters and make up another batch of Fresh Tomato Sauce which I *will* use to make a fresh pasta sauce. If it comes out okay, I may even post the recipe!!

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