you may have notice the serious lack of posts in the last few weeks. part of that has to do with my camera being broken and off getting fixed. i just don’t like to post without pictures – it gets boring. part of it has to do with just what a crazy busy fall it’s been, and how it’s looking like it’s gonna be a busy winter and spring too. while i tend to feel a certain depression with the colder gray months, right now the idea of reading and drinking tea while watching snowflakes fall down sounds pretty amazing. snow ball fight with ma, hikes in the snowy woods!
but the real reason that i haven’t been posting is that i just haven’t felt like it, and when i started this blog i told myself it would be something i did because i felt like it, not because i was obligated. but i’m feeling more like writing again, so hopefully i’ll be able to get more posts out, and hopefully the camera will get up and running soon. now – the post i’ve been meaning to post for two weeks.
frost is coming, the tomatoes are getting in short supply and we are quickly stocking up as quick as we can. plans are already being hatched for next year – garden expansion, solar dehydrator- we are getting a little crazy trying to get everything put away.
by this time of year, i’m sick of tomatoes, but i know how much having good quality preserved tomatoes can help make the winter a little better. what could be better than chili on a cold winter day made with tomatoes you put up. but ma and i are not content with just a few cans of tomatoes, we cook in much to varied a way to just have canned tomatoes. it also doesn’t help that neither of us are all that fond of canning tomatoes, both of us still hold memories of one of the major fights we got into during a hot august canning session.
to get around this we have focused on sun-dried tomatoes
just take small tomatoes, slice them in half, stick them in the dehydrator and 48 hours later they are done. the dehyrator has been going 24 seven for over a month. i worry that the motor will burn out, and we are talking about building a solar deyhdrator to get around this and save on electric.
man can not live on sun-dried tomatoes alone!
we also slow oven roast a bunch of tomatoes, slicing them in half, sprinkling them with a little salt and roasting them at 225 for around 4 hours. then they go in the fridge until we have enough to run though the food mill. what comes out of the food mill is like tomato paste – but much better. this gets hot packed in jars. (more on that later)
in addition we also do tomato juice and diced tomatoes
diced tomatoes – we simple cut up, bring up to boil for a little while and then hot pack them. for tomato juice we cut up tomatoes, bring the to a simmer until they are soft and juicy, then run them though the food mill. the juice is then brought to boil and hot packed too.
so about this hot packing, it’s pretty simple and if we don’t end up dying of food poisoning i fully endorse this method as much simpler and less work than hot water bath canning. here’s how it works. clean jars go in the oven and stay there for at least a half hour at 250 or so. lids and rings go in a boiling hot water bath. whatever you are packing into the jars gets brought up to a boil and held there for a few. jars come out everything gets packed in tight, lids and rings go on, the jars get flipped upside down for 5 minutes and then flipped back up. that’s it.
this works just fine on high acid foods like tomatoes, and also jams. this is the way all our jam is processed at work, and out of thousands of jars processed we have had not one go bad on us. all our seal are nice and tight.
sun-dried tomatoes we ended up with over 2 gallons, which i think will be plenty, next year i hope to make more juice and diced tomatoes, though we will see how much we actually go though this winter and have to decide for next year. you can also see the dried blueberries from earlier in the summer up front.
i leave you with a detail of some sun-dried tomatoes