As you might have read from an earlier blog post I pick my tomatoes, remove the stalks and freeze so that when I am ready I can make one big batch of tomato sauce which I will can and use throughout the winter.
We have had our first rain of the autumn here in Seattle and the temperature outside is a cool 55 degrees F so it is time to make the sauce!
This years tomato crop was not as good as in previous years so I suspect I will not get more than a few liters of sauce, darn!
Here is my process for making tomato sauce:
Canned Tomato Sauce
First I start by dumping all the frozen tomatoes in the pot, just to defrost them and getting them cooking takes 3 - 4 hours so make sure you are ready for almost a full 8 - 10 hours of cooking.
You need to reduce the total volume by 60%, crazy I know but tomatoes have so much water and you need to cook this off so you are left with tomato goodness.
Once you have cooked down the tomatoes to a thick mixture it is time for you put them through a food mill. My food mill has three options from the biggest holes to the smallest, I use the middle option. Once I am through with this process I always find that I need to cook down the mixture a little bit more. You know it is ready to can when you don't see a separation of water at the top and tomato sauce. I have included a lot of pictures to help you with this process.
When it comes to canning you need to boil a pot of water, make sure your jar are sterilized. I use quart size jars and before adding the sauce you need 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Fill the jars with the sauce leaving about ½ at the top. Put on the seal and lid and then process in the boiling water for about 45 minutes, leave them for an additional 5 minutes with the heat turned off before you remove them.
You should have a winter's supply of tomato sauce!
This year my blackcurrants recovered from being moved last year and were back to their normal abundant cropping. I have only 2 plants and they produce so much fruit I am always at a loss for what to do with them. This is mainly because I made so much jelly 2 years in a row that 3 years later I am still eating it! Canned goods last forever right?
I am very glad that the blackcurrants did well this year because my red and white currants got decimated by a caterpillar. Oddly the caterpillar stripped all 6 plants of their leaves but left about 50% - 60% of the fruit intact. After picking the currants I ended up with more caterpillars on my clothing that fruit in my basket.
Back to blackcurrants...I went back to my favorite books, the River Cottage Handbooks. This time I went for No. 2 Preserves and found a great recipe for potted blackcurrants. When reading the description as being great with custard or ice cream I thought this would be perfect.
Getting blackcurrants off the plant individually is pretty easy so I decided to pick them this way so as to make the cleaning and canning part of the job easier. You really want to pack them in the jars but want to avoid crushing them. Once they are all in the jars you want to pour the syrup over them. To make the syrup you want to heat 600 ml of water with 200 grams of sugar. Once the mixture comes to a boil keep boiling for about 1 minute. Let this syrup cool slightly (to 60 degrees C) and then pour over the fruit up to the brim. Fasten with the screw bands as per normal for canning. Place the jars in water which is at 38 degrees C and then over 25 minutes heat to 88 degrees C and then maintain at this temperature for about 2 minutes. Lift out the jars and once totally cool check for a seal.
I have never canned this way but all of my jars were sealed and the liquid in the cans is a lovely blue/purple color, what a great use for blackcurrants!
I ate my first tomato of 2017 today and WOW was it good, you cannot go wrong with a Gardeners Delight tomato! I think that this is a little later than my normal first tasting which I always remember being in June. I believe that in years past I ate my first tomato in June because we had some warm weather in April or May, not this year! The weather only really started getting nicer at the end of May. Regardless I now have tomatoes going crazy and this gets me thinking of the obvious question, ‘What am I going to do with all of these tomatoes?’.
I asked myself this question for the first few years after building the greenhouse and having literally baskets full of ripe tomatoes. I tried to start canning various things in batches when I had tomatoes and made things like salsa and tomato sauce. I found myself doing this once-twice a week from the months of July - October, it was very time consuming! A few years ago I was about to go on vacation and had so many tomatoes so I just stuck them in a bag in the freezer. When I was home from vacation, and was making my next batch of tomato sauce, I dumped them in. I use a food mill before canning my tomato sauce so these frozen tomatoes with skins did not matter.
From that day on I put tomatoes in the freezer when they are ripe and then make a couple of massive batches of tomato sauce each year. It is the same amount of effort but much less frequently. I just used my second to last jar of tomato sauce from last year so fingers crossed this will be a good summer for tomatoes!