I survived Tomato Week! Two Sundays ago I bought a 25 lb box of roma tomatoes from my usual farmer’s market booth. One thing I’ve learned is that I need to spread out the tomatoes to insure that I can target those mostly likely to spoil first, and weed out any spoiled tomatoes (I found one at the bottom of the box, it had taken out one neighbor, but due to my quick check no other tomatoes were spoiled).
I started with salsa – a pantry staple in our house, and we just haven’t been thrilled with so many of the store bought options. A friend mentioned that she tried the Mrs Wages salsa mix and it was easy and tasty. So, when I saw a medium version on sale at the store I grabbed a pouch. I also decided not to make more than one batch of any given recipe – last year I made two of a favorite recipe and was plain tired of it by early summer (however we nailed our salsa consumption – I have one pint leftover from last year and that is only because, around May we started conserving and bought two jars from the store in anticipation of running out).
5 lbs of tomatoes plus the Mrs. Wages pouch of dried vegetables and spices became 5 pints of salsa. It had a crazy long processing time, but I wasn’t confident enough to not listen. (40 minutes – I have a plain chopped tomato recipe that only calls for 35 minutes, and my other recipes call for 15 or 20 minutes). On first taste it was pretty good, but perhaps a touch salty.
5 lbs of tomatoes turned into 10 cups of coarsely chopped tomatoes for our usual Simple ‘House’ Salsa from Ball Complete Guide became 5 pints of salsa (4 pints sealed, 1 pint went to the fridge with a bout a cup left over). This year I used 5 large jalapenos with all their seeds (which the food processor turned into about 1 1/4 cups of chopped jalapeno) instead of the called for green or red bell pepper.
6 lbs of tomatoes turned into 12 cups of coarsely chopped tomatoes for our usual Spicy Tomato Salsa from Ball Complete Guide became 7 pints of salsa (with about 2 tablespoons leftover). This year I used 2 dried chipotles, 1 dried chile negro and 6 dried chile gaujillos. I used lots of gaujillos simply because I only wanted to buy one packet of dried chiles from the store (the dried chipotles and chile negro were leftover from last year). I seeded half the fresh jalapenos.
2 lbs of tomatoes turned into the Blender Salsa from Marissa McCellan’s new Preserving by the Pint. I got just over the stated 4 half-pint yield. I considered processing it in our usual pint jars but was worried about processing time so I stuck to the half-pints. My first thoughts are that it is very tomato-y and lime-y. I might try adding some fresh, chopped cilantro when we open a jar since we are big cilantro fans.
Just shy of 5 lbs of tomatoes went in the oven, slow roasting. They turned into 9.35 oz of tomatoes and are stored in a ziplock in the freezer.
So 18 lbs of tomatoes turned into 18+ pints of salsa. 5 lbs of tomatoes went to the freezer and we have 4 tomatoes left (3/4 lb).
Other notes: With the exception of the Blender Salsa I hand chop all the tomatoes. It goes surprisingly fast, or at least faster than I think it should (about 20 minutes for 5-6 lbs). This year I also hand chopped my onion, but I use the food processor to chop my jalapenos (just a few pulses does it) because the less I have to handle them the better (maybe one day I will have disposable gloves that fit and then I can compare hand chopped versus food processor).
I’m really excited that this year I managed to get through the whole box of tomatoes in less than a week. Now I have to decide, do I want to buy another 25 lb box? It would be nice to make a second batch of oven roasted tomatoes, and there was a tomato jam recipe I wanted to make… I could maybe see adding another batch of salsa, plus I could make some chopped tomatoes, maybe some rotel-style tomatoes for chili this winter and maybe finally try my hand at whole, peeled tomatoes…
There is still time. Every year I take notes, but never feel like I get them done in time to publish this. Because when I started canning, recipes that list things like “12 cups of chopped tomato” aren’t very helpful while I’m at the market trying to buy the correct amount. Also, I tend to lose paper notes. But I hope someone finds this helpful.
Last week (8/25) I bought a 20 lb box of organic roma tomatoes. And throughout the week I worked on processing them with a friend of mine. They sat until Tuesday, at which point I took them out of the box and put them in a single layer* on three sheet pans (two half-sheets and one jelly-roll). On Wednesday I blanched and chopped 12 pounds in preparation for 2 batches of salsa (I divided these as I went). On Thursday I chopped everything else for those two batches, then cooked and processed one batch. On Friday I cooked and processed the second batch. And now its Sunday night and I started oven-dried tomatoes (4 1/8 lbs fit on my jelly roll pans that fit in my small oven). Sometimes starting a canning project can be daunting so I break it into chunks (a tip from Food in Jars blog). I had friends staying with me so we tried to fit canning amongst about-the-town and entertain-the-kiddos time. Another friend of mine powered through her box in one night.
The short notes
- 6 lbs tomatoes becomes 12 cups of tomatoes becomes 7 pints of Spicy Tomato Salsa from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I seeded 2 jalapenos, used 4 with seeds, I used 1/2 cup of the dried-chile water to puree. Initial taste tests suggest an extra spicy version this year.
- 5 lbs tomatoes becomes 10 cups of tomatoes becomes 5 pints of House Tomato Salsa from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I used 5 jalapenos with seeds instead of the green bell pepper and hot sauce. Initial taste tests suggest an extra spicy version this year.
- 4 lbs tomatoes on their way to oven-dried goodness. This gets stored in the freezer – I highly recommend having these to perk up fall, winter, spring and early summer meals.
- approximately 3 lbs haven’t met their fate yet.
- We probably ate a pound with meals.
* This box came home on the under ripe side. Last year a lost several tomatoes because they went bad in the box and contaminated other tomatoes (“one rotten apple spoils the bunch” has merit) so this year I spread everything out. Keeping them on sheet pans made it easy to move as we dealt with other cooking tasks (like blackberry jam and dinner).
And now this week I came home from the market with 10 lbs of tomatillos. Salsa verde is in my near future. And next week I plan to split a 20 lb box of romas with a friend.
We purchased 15 lbs of canning tomatoes and 1 pint basket of jalapenos for our salsa canning adventure.
After pouring over countless recipes, worrying about vinegar versus lemon juice and the wide range of vinegar additions (necessary due to the questionable acidity level of the tomatoes combined with the low-acid peppers, onions and other salsa additions) we settled on Spicy Tomato Salsa (page 205) from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine.
Some things we want to remember: Our 15 lbs of tomatoes yielded 21 cups of diced tomatoes (after blanching, peeling and coring). We used 12 cups for the salsa and froze the remaining in 2 cups increments. We used 4 chile negros and 5 guajillo chiles for the the dried chiles in the salsa and left the seeds in one jalapeno. Our yield was 8 pints and 1 half-pint. (I’ve yet to have a spot-on yield from this book.)
It took like 2 1/2 hours to go from raw, unprepped ingredients to salsa in a pot. Another 30 or 40 minutes to bring it to a boil. And finally 3 hours 45 minutes from starting (or maybe 3 hours 15 minutes) the filled cans are in the canning pot.