I LOVE summer tomatoes. It's just not summer without them. When I was a kid we used to go to the local pick your own farm and bring back huge boxes full of them. My family wasn't one for preserving, so we just ate and ate and ate tomatoes until the season was over. Then we waited until next summer. That's seasonal eating at it's finest.
It's been a very strange summer season here. My husband diligently planted tons of tomato seeds. Caring for them for weeks in pots all over the house. Then he loving and carefully planted them. Then the cold came, and the rain, and the winds, and not enough heat. We are barely getting a few precious cherry tomatoes and some heirlooms. Not enough to preserve. It's been frustrating to see all his hard work not really pay off. Makes us appreciate our local farmers even more. In fact one local farm lost everyone of their hundreds of tomato plants to blight. Ugh.
Yesterday we were lucky enough to find a farm that has tomatoes. A small local farm using mostly organic practices. We bought a bushel of ripe tomatoes for 30 bucks. I had been eager to can some to use through the winter. But there are some issues with that.
1) I've only canned a few times. It was quite a process and I don't have a huge pot or canning pot = extra expense. So I'm not fully comfortable with the whole canning process.
2) All the talk of safety issues kind of freaks me out. Botulism? Um, no thanks.
3) and then there's the whole BPA issue in the canning lids. But BPA is one of the reasons I'm trying to get away from store bought canned tomatoes.
4) Pantry space is at a premium. Home canned goods need a place to stay.
5) It's still warm here and the thought of babysitting can after can of hottness doesn't appeal to me.
What I AM blessed with is freezer space! I have a whole stand up freezer and a small chest freezer all to myself. Yesterday I peeled and cooked down half the bushel of tomatoes. I ended up with 7 quart jars full. That whole process was enough to push me over to the side of not canning.
These jars are going into the freezer just like that. I don't know enough about the BPA issue to know if it effects the tomato sauce even if it's not touching it and is frozen. Anyway, I only have 7 of these quarts.
I decided to do a little digging on freezing tomatoes. I stumbled on this blog post and thought - 'what the heck! Why not?' Makes sense to me. Of course they won't be good in salads or sandwiches, but what preserved tomato is? So I washed, dried, and set them on a cleared out shelf in my freezer. When they are solid then I'll transfer to a bag. I guess the coming cooking months will be the test as to whether or not this works well. But it seems to have been tested by others. When they defrost the skin peels off, chop and throw into whatever I'm making. Genius!
I think I'll go back for another bushel. I'd like to freezer more. My herb garden is still growing so I'd also like to actually make a big pot of sauce to freeze into portions. Grand, huh?
And check it out! Looks like a delicious smelling vanilla candle, right? Nope. That's part of 30+ lbs of grass fed beef tallow that I'm rendering right now (another reason not to dive into canning at the moment). Last night I was admiring this jar of tallow since it's the only jar like this I have. I've been wondering to myself where I got it. My husband said, yeah it looks like a candle. DUH! of course, I must have washed out a candle jar a long time ago. I've been using it in the kitchen for quite awhile now. All the other jars are regular pint sized mason jars full of tallow. If you pour it in hot, then the lids seal as they cool. Tallow is shelf stable and will last for months in the pantry.