First, a game. Which one of these is not like the others?
Wait, you say they all seem different? Let me give you a hint.
We planted six varieties of heirloom tomatoes. I even had a handy dandy chart, but things got mixed up, some died, and we were left with a mystery tomato vine. It took forever for this vine to fruit, and we experienced lots of blossom rot, but this one sure is gorgeous and is of the Brandywine variety. Can't wait to taste it.
Anyway, let's move on from the tomato talk to...more tomato talk. Whaddya do with the harvest bounty? We've had four big batches of tomatoes come through with some more on the way (although I read in the paper that the high heat might have prematurely cut the season short this year--boo!). We don't want to eat nothing but 'maters, and don't we want to get a taste of summer when it's freezing outside?
Yes, we do. So we decided to preserve tomatoes with a relatively simple process, ending in a swift plop into the freezer.
First, put a pot of water on the stovetop to boil.
In the meantime, slice an X on the tomatoes.
|Perfectionists, the X need not be perfect.|
Take the tomato out of the water and dunk into ice water. Leave for a few moments (my photo of this wasn't that good. Sorry.).
Pick up the 'mater and peel it. It should come right off.
At this stage, you can slice out the core and painstakingly remove all seeds. Or you could rip the middle out with your hands and squeeze the hell out of the fruit. You might miss seeds, but really, does it matter? Not to me.
Throw the peeled and cored tomato into the crockpot. If you have any cherry tomatoes, you can throw those in whole if you wish.
Slice basil or other seasonings over the pot.
Admire the beauty of red and green together. Those Christmas people who decided on the color combination sure were smart.
Cook the mixture. If you wish, mash the tomatoes with a potato masher while it cooks. I've cooked as few as 7 hours on low or as much as 14 hours (perhaps they were a little caramelized by then, but the spaghetti we enjoyed from that batch was spectacular).
Let it all cool. I then put the sauce into freeze-safe containers, let them hang out in the fridge to cool more, and then plop 'em in the freezer.**
As you can tell, I didn't season this mixture except with herbs. I figured I'd do that later. I have added others things, like sauteed onion and garlic, but that's not necessary. You could also add meat.
Some folks don't peel the tomatoes and put the mixture through a ricer later on, but I do not own such a device. Ryan helped with the peeling, making the job go very fast. I highly recommend asking for (demanding) assistance.
I hope you've enjoyed summer fresh produce this year. It is soooo good.
**Note: This method isn't for shelf-stable canning/preservation. The tomato sauce should be kept cold and eaten within a few days or frozen. Maybe I'll try canning next year.