in previous years i have canned tomato paste into small 1/4 pint jars using a hot pack method. this method has not been without controversy as several commenters have discussed their concerns over the safety of this method. while i still stand by the safety and methods – i’ve also found that even a 1/4 pint of tomato paste is to much for me to open and not have go bad before i use it all.
this year my efforts to preserve food have been focused mostly on freezing, with the new house we have a basement where we were able to put in a chest freezer. it is now loaded full of sugar snap peas, green beans, broccoli and corn for the winter months. with the little one around, freezing has proved a massively easier way to preserve food, in fact the only canning i have done is a dozen 1/2 pints of pear sauce made a couple of days after we got home from the hospital. making and canning pear sauce completely sucked all my energy out of me, and the next day i was left a zombie trying to care for my son. canning wasn’t going to work this year.
at work we have a lot of tomatoes that we picked green, brought inside, and are allowing to ripen slowly. they don’t make for the best fresh eating tomatoes, and they often tend to get a bit ugly. i can’t bear to see them go to waste and brought them home to make tomato paste.
this year’s batch is similar to the way i have made them is the past – though i kept it simpler in light of the complexity in my life. tomatoes got quartered and cored, and thrown in a large heavy bottomed pot on the stove on low heat. paste tomatoes are best, as they have less liquid, but almost any tomato will work, its just gonna take more time with beefsteaks. they get simmered until they are soft and plenty of liquid has be released. i leave them uncovered so as to reduce the liquid as they cook, but stir frequently so as to not burn them.
once they are soft and have released their liquid they go though a food mill and get ground. this liquid then goes into the crock pot. turn the crock pot on high leave the lid cracked so steam can escape, and stir every few hours. the sides in particular tend to get thicker. if you are not able to stir often, you can set it on low, but clearly this will take longer. 12 hours is about right on high – 18 on low.
once it has reach the constancy of tomato paste – this is where we depart from canning. this year i went with freezing – but i needed some sort of mold to freeze them in, and a mold that was an appropriate serving size, i went with an ice cube tray! spoon some into each cube and stick it in the fridge. allow them to freeze real solid overnight, and them crack em out and pack em in a freezer bag. yr done! and the serving size is a couple of tablespoons! and you don’t have to deal with the hot water bath canner – and folks don’t think i’m unsafe!
what are you stocking the larder with right now?