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    Sunday
    Aug072011

    Tomatoes for the winter

    Last Wednesday I was wishing I had a time machine.  I would have put these organic, red, little gems in it until the weekend.  But I didn't, so I had to get up early and do something with them before going to work.

    The quickest way to preserve them until winter was to freeze them.  There is more than one way to do this, but I'll show you how I did it.  It's very easy, just a little time consuming.  The time it takes is worth it to me for 3 reasons.  #1 - Nothing tastes better than homegrown tomatoes.  #2 - It's frugal and saves me money.  Organic produce can be rather expensive.  #3 - Come winter, and it's time to make a batch of chili, it will be convenient to grab a quart of tomatoes out of the freezer that are already peeled and quartered.

    First, put a pot of water on to boil.  I use my oldest most beat up pot. (Makes it still feel useful...good pot, come here boy, that a' boy, here's some water for you, now on the stove, good boy!)             

     

    Then get out all of your ice cubes and fill up the sink with water.  The more ice, the better.

    Round up your tomatoes.  I had some in the frig and some on the table.  Get 'em all together.

    I saved several of the biggest, best, ones for BLT's and salads.  Make sure to get all the stems off of them, too.

    Might as well multi-task.  Get out the bacon and fry up some for BLT's later.

        

    Once the water on the stove is boiling drop a few tomatoes in the water for a couple of minutes. This will cause the skins to crack and they will be easy to peel. I usually drop in 5 or 6 if they are small. The idea is to keep the water boiling. Most of my tomatoes had been in the frig, so they really dropped the temp of the water. In that case add fewer at a time and make sure the water is really boiling in between adding more.

    Once the skins crack, use some tongs and put them in the ice water.  Some tomatoes are stubborn and the skins won't crack.  DON'T cook them!  If the skins don't split after a while (3-4 minutes) take them out anyway.  This is the only "artistic" part of the process.  The amount of time will depend on the variety or type of tomato, whether they are room temperature or refrigerated, or whether you just picked them on a hot day and they are warm already.  Just go for it.  It will be fine.

      

    It would have been nice to have more ice.  The idea is to cool down the tomatoes quickly.  But that's all the ice I had on hand.  I'm not always known for my organization.  Maybe I should have been in Boy Scouts when I was younger.  I could have learned their motto of "Be Prepared".  (Is that even still their motto?  I don't know.)  Anyway, get all your tomatoes in the sink and keep turning the bacon!

       

    All that's left is to peel, core, cut out any bad spots, and cut them into chunks.  If they are really small, I leave them whole.  Medium ones get quartered.  Large ones get cut into chunks.  Do it however you like.  There's no right or wrong way to do it.  It kind of depends on what you will do with them later.  There will be a lot of juice, too, so try to divide it up as you fill the freezer bags.

            

    Just bag them up and plop them in the freezer.  Leave some room for them to expand as they freeze.

    I ended up with 8 quarts.  (The final picture was blurrier than this one so you'll just have to take my word for it!)  This winter when I make a batch of chili, I'll use 1 quart of tomatoes, 2 lbs of meat (ground beef or ground turkey), a bunch of chili powder, some chopped onion, chopped garlic, and chopped jalepenos if I want it spicey.  I also add 1 or 2 cans of beans (usually chili beans or kidney beans...sometimes black beans).  To make a big batch I just double everything.  It makes the cold, snowy winter nights in Kansas not seem so cold.

     

    Reader Comments (2)

    Never even thought to try this, good stuff.

    August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGYSC

    It helps that I have an upright freezer out in my garage. If you only have a small freezer above your frig it will fill up fast. I also freeze a lot of blackberries to make pies out of. Really, I freeze any surplus stuff. My Mom use to can everything in mason jars, but I'm not that energetic, since I am doing it by myself. I grew up helping my Mom can stuff. Of course when you're a kid that's the last thing you want to be doing when you're out of school for summer. :)

    August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSovBo

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