Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Still Canning Tomatoes...

It's been a few weeks since I posted...and guess what?  I'm still canning tomatoes!

I made three batches of salsa, one batch of spaghetti sauce (I have some left from last year) and I'm on my second batch of tomato soup today!

Oh...and in there, a friend came and picked several buckets full of tomatoes when I was gone taking Jenna to college in Kansas.  They just keep growing and ripening...yay for those of us who like tomatoes!

Yesterday when I got up, I was planning to make a fourth batch of salsa...but I read a post on face book by a friend who made soup, and so I changed my plans.  I think she froze hers, but I found a recipe that looked good that was for a pressure canner, and so I gave it a try.  I think the kettle full of veggies looks so pretty!

Such an easy recipe...and I got ten pints, plus enough for our supper last night...

Normally, a pint jar of soup concentrate wouldn't be nearly enough for our family...but I'm having to retrain myself to think in terms of cooking for two, not four.  Both kids are away at college, so it's a season of change here in many ways.

Here's the recipe, if you'd like to give it a try...


8 lbs ripe tomatoes, unpeeled, quartered
1 cup celery, diced
2 cups onion, diced
1 cup fresh parsley
6 bay leaves
3/4 cup clear jel
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 1/2 Tbsp salt (optional...I used less)
1/4 cup sugar (optional)

Place tomatoes, celery, onion, parsley and bay leaves in a large stainless steel pot.  Cook gently, uncovered, until tender, stirring as needed.

Press through a food strainer, or sieve into a large stainless steel or enamel cast iron sauce pan.  

Set aside 2 cups of puree to cool.

Whisk together clear jel, and cooled tomato puree to form a slurry.

Bring soup back to a boil and stir in the slurry.  (This is when I added the salt, pepper and sugar)  Continue to boil for about two minutes, until it thickens.  *Soup will not resemble commercial soup concentrate, but rather a slightly-too-thick tomato soup.

Ladle into pint or half pint jars and fill to 1" head space.  Wipe rings and set two piece caps.

Process in pressure canner...at 10 lbs pressure for a weighted gauge and 11 lbs pressure for dial gauge...for 25 minutes.  Do not use quarts for this recipe

When ready to make the soup, just heat with equal parts liquid such as milk, water or chicken broth.

I kept some extra out for our supper last night, and we were pleased with the taste!  Grilled cheese sandwiches and fresh lima beans from my Mom's garden made a tasty meal!  

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Bumper Crop Of 'Maters...

It's been a fabulous growing season here!  Rain, rain and more rain, and hot humid days have given every plant the extra boost needed to grow.  Even the weeds.  :(

Like most other crops, my tomatoes have over achieved this year.  I planted six different varieties...one plant of each...and they've gone wild!

I planted Celebrity, Early Girl, Mountain Fresh, Amish Paste, Abe Lincoln and ??  I can't seem to remember the last one, and the tag is missing.  All of them are producing large fruit that are ripening evenly without cracking (from all the rain) except for Mr Lincoln.  I don't think I'll plant that one again. Those tomatoes are yellow on the shoulders and have mostly cracked. Lucky for the chickens, their pen is right next to the garden, and they get the rejects for snack!

This morning I picked a large bucket full, and made my first batch of salsa.  I tried to make it a little on the hot side, since Eric and Jim both like it better that way, but I'm not sure I was too successful. Eric will be living in an on campus apartment this year at college, so I figured I'd send a stash with him. Hopefully he and his room mates will like it even if it's mild.

It looks like tomorrow or Saturday I'll have another bunch ready for picking...

My favorite cherry tomato ever is Sweet Baby Girl.  I've not been disappointed in her this summer either.  These beauties are just the right size for a bite sized taste, and they're wonderfully sweet...

This afternoon's harvest...

...and the batch of salsa that I made this morning is bubbling away in the canner as I type...so see...I'm not wasting time, I'm multi tasking!  :)

Jim is about half finished with fourth cutting hay...Jenna is mowing the yard...Eric is at work...and we're enjoying our last week together as a family before both kids head off to college next weekend.  It's going to be really, really different around here as we do the "empty nest" thing for the first time!

What's happening where you are?  In your garden? On your farm?

Here's a link to the salsa recipe that we like!