Thursday, October 7, 2010

Humbled and Crushed Tomatoes

I am starting to panic!

After a summer full of fresh, local, organic greens, tomatoes, berries, I am wondering how we will make it through the winter without. The chipmunk in me is taking over and I have been filling my freezer with wild blueberries, cranberries, pureed pumpkin and now....tomatoes.

On Saturday morning I kissed hubby and doggie good-bye (boys still asleep), and headed to the market before the big crowds.

My mission: To buy 20 pounds of tomatoes to make sauce to freeze for the winter. I have decided to prepare crushed tomatoes to freeze so that I can eliminate buying the canned versions to make spaghetti and pizza sauce, stews, soups and chili.

I stopped by one of my favourite stalls, Elmridge Farms to see if they have large quantities of romas.

Here are a few of my cute neighbour buddies that work at the Elmridge Farm stall!

The next day I settled into tomato chopping while listening to my neightbour Niki Jabbour's gardening show on 95.7 fm radio.
I called in a question and subsequently won the book "Locavore", a book that I had wanted to read - so that was great!!

I've only read the first three chapters thus far - but it has deepened my awareness of the importance and the impact of our food choices. What an exciting time for food and farms - people are interested in knowing the farmers who grow their vegetables and fruits and raised the chicken on their plate.

The second chapter highlights an intimate interview with a husband and wife who farm in Annapolis Valley; Greg and Suzanne of Elmridge Farm! They share their struggles and heartbreaks of owning and operating a family farm - years of low income, 85 hour work weeks, no vacations for years,  a truckload of spoiled broccoli due to a refrigerator breakdown. And they continue to farm - thank goodness!

Mike's Grandad Ernest Greenley was a farmer. In 1969 he decided to sell the farm....but only to someone who was committed to continue farming the land. He had two offers; one for $100,000 from a developer, the other for $30,000 from a family that was going to farm the land. He chose the farmer. He had the dedication to farming and the foresight to know that urban sprawl could take over arable land. That land is still farmed  - but is surrounded by suburbs and developments. I never met Ernie Greenley, but he is a hero of mine.

Finally, here is the method to crushed tomato sauce:

Crushed Tomatoes (freezer-ready)

Wash the tomatoes thoroughly and cut out the stem.

Now, many tomato sauce makers will suggest that you boil and then peel the tomatoes and take out the seeds - I say, why?  The skins will disintegrate with stewing and pureeing - and they add colour and flavour. I am 'all about' making it less tedious.
Dice up the tomatoes into approximately 1-inch pieces.
Chop up some onion and garlic if you wish and throw this in batches into a food processor - pulse until a chunky puree.

Add to a large heavy pot and stew on low heat for a couple of hours.

Let cool completely before you portion into freezer bags

When you pop these out of the freezer and put them into a pot to make a sauce or soup, use as you would a can of crushed or stewed tomatoes. Isn't that great?!
You could also just freeze whole or diced tomatoes.

My freezer is filling up - but I am still in a bit of a panic about the greens! Am thinking about a cold frame to grow some hardy greens. .....stay tuned!!

1 comment:

  1. Edie...I had not thought to blitz/pulse the tomatoes first...did it last night to my German Golds (with garlic), and wow...fantastic..much better than chopping and stewing and then dealing with that. In fact, I loved the chunky texture far more than the way I have been using the tomatoes. Gosh..thank you very much.