The Big, Red Aftermath

Well, gentle readers of the internest, it has been almost 5 days since I threw down the gauntlet and decided to undertake the great tomato project.  And now, as I sit here at 7:30 pm on Thursday, I can say that it is finally over, and I emerged victorious.   No, really!

It started out simply enough, but, as with most of my best laid plans, it spiraled out of control into a massive undertaking quite quickly.  Originally I had just planned to can some homemade bruschetta; just enough to last through the winter, and it was going to be with my homegrown heirloom tomatoes.  Unfortunately, that was before I understood how there are specific chemical balances required in canning, and that you can’t just process whatever random recipe you feel like putting in a jar using a home canning setup.  At this point I thought to myself that if I was going to go to all that trouble, I might as well just do several things together anyway.

And this is how I ended up with close to 140 pounds of tomatoes littered on my kitchen and living room floor.  You see, I’d ordered two bushels from my friendly, neighborhood organic delivery guy, but he ended up bringing me forty pounds, thinking that I really couldn’t need that much.  And at the time, those tomatoes were hopelessly under-ripe and not ready for my canning.  So, that is how the Everyman and I ended up at Fiesta Farms on Monday, purchasing two huge bushels of tomatoes.

When I got home Monday night I set to work sorting and cleaning and coring and peeling tomatoes.  That night I canned half of the twenty four cup bruschetta recipe, and ten litre jars of whole crushed tomatoes.  I was probably on my feet from 6 pm until almost midnight and the floor was still entirely covered in tomatoes.  Oh calamity, what have I gotten myself into?

Tuesday morning saw me finish processing the rest of the jars of whole crushed tomatoes and head off to work with tomatoes on the brain.  When I returned home that evening I set to preparing the other half of the bruschetta recipe, and several trays of oven roasted tomatoes.  By the time I went to sleep that night the bruschetta was put to bed and the oven roasted were well on their way to being done too.

On Wednesday morning I awoke to find our house reeking like a pizzeria.  The oven roasted tomatoes had been cooking overnight, and were just about done.  If you are ever so inclined to make these, make sure that you plan accordingly, as it can take as little as 10 hours and as many as 14.  And I suggest that you do make these, because they are absolutely marvelous, like biting into a pizza without the dough.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

5-6 lbs roma tomatoes (per 11×17 tray)

salt

olive oil

thyme

garlic cloves, sliced

Wash and halve the tomatoes and place skin side down into a baking pan.  Drizzle generously with olive oil, sprinkle liberally with salt, and crumble fresh thyme leaves on each tomato.  Place a thin slice of garlic on each tomato half and roast the pan in a 200* oven for 12 to 14 hours.  To store, place between layers of parchment or wax paper in an airtight container in the freezer, or pack in a jar and cover completely with olive oil.

Wednesday evening saw more tomato roasting, as I prepped the tomatoes for sauce making.  I started at around 5 pm, and again did not finish until almost midnight.  The sauce recipe called for one bushel of tomatoes to yield fourteen quarts of sauce, so I spent approximately 3 hours just roasting the tomatoes for the sauce.  By the time I went to bed I had a gigantic eighteen quart stockpot full of tomato sauce just bubbling away.  It had started to reduce but wasn’t anywhere near being ready to jar.  So, I covered it and let it cool on the stove overnight and went to catch some much needed zzz’s.

Ironically, when I woke up this morning and came to turn the sauce back on, I found that the pot was so big that the residual heat had not yet dissipated, and the sauce was still quite warm.  One hour and a rolling boil later the sauce was starting to reach the consistency I desired, so seven quarts were bottled and processed before I even left for work.  When I got home I reheated the sauce again, and bottled seven more.  The monumental success of the roasted tomatoes made me decide to turn the last twenty pounds of tomatoes into more roasted tomatoes.

So now, as I sit here typing this, the pressure canner is cooling with my last saucy jars, and the oven is hissing away with the remains of my roasted tomatoes and I’m done.  I feel rather at peace, like I’ve accomplished something major, something that most of the population lost touch with a long time ago.  I’ve invested probably 30 hours of my time into preserving food for me and my family to enjoy once the weather gets cold and tomato-y goodness is long gone.

So what is the final count you say?  140ish pounds of tomatoes got me:

13 pints of bruschetta

10 quarts of crushed whole tomatoes

14 quarts of tomato sauce

2 gigantic tupperware containers of oven roasted tomatoes

Will I do it again?  Only time will tell.  Once the weather gets cold I’ll have to see how much I enjoy having the taste of summer in my pantry.

Until next time…

Tags: , , , , , , ,

3 Responses to “The Big, Red Aftermath”

  1. I like the food my MOM cans for me….

    I love watching the smiles my family have when eating the foods I prepare…

  2. [...] – Oven-dried Tomatoes – I chronicled the process of making oven-dried tomatoes here last year.  And all winter long, I’ve been patting myself on the back for doing it.  [...]

  3. [...] bread, it made for deliciously laid back noshing while I worked.  A quartet of last year’s oven-roasted tomatoes provided both savour and succulence, while the various chunks of cheese (mimolette, mexicana [...]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.