Since there isn't a whole lot going on right now, I thought I'd go back to the pictures from last fall that I never managed to post. I did burn a pile today and pick up lots of sticks from the yard. The high today is about 20, but the sun is shining. It seems warmer than it is. I finally decided it was too cold. The onions are surviving. They've been in the greenhouse and generally neglected in terms of water. I will bring them in the house tonight as it's supposed to be -4. The greenhouse does pretty well, but that's asking a lot and they're just babies.
We'll start with canning tomato sauce; these pictures are from October 3. (This makes me jealous of my fall self--there may have been no spare time, but there were ripe tomatoes!) Step one is washing the tomatoes. They tell you not to use overripe, cracked, or bruised tomatoes. I suppose they could kill you. However, the tomatoes I work with have all been to market and not chosen. So sometimes they're just a little cracked and if they seem ok, I use them anyway.
Some people have some kind of fancy device they put their tomatoes in and the skin and seeds are removed. I don't have one, and don't particularly want one. Unlike so many people, I REALLY like tomato seeds. I find them to be little nuggets of goodness, whether I'm eating a fresh tomato or a tomato product. I wouldn't mind losing the skin, but the seeds must stay. Other people make the sauce with the skin on. Because that's not how I learned, that's not how I do it. I bring a pot of water to boil and put the tomatoes in. Usually I have more in than these two. When the skins crack, they're ready to come out. The riper the tomato, the quicker it happens.
When they're done in the pot, they come out and into a sink full of ice water. The ice quickly dissipates, but I'm not great about replacing it. It's not that big a deal to me if they continue cooking. Anyway, I cut the core out, pull the skins off, and throw them in the blender.
Into the giant pot they go, till it's full to the top. I bring it to a boil and then simmer away until it achieves the thickness I like (usually 1/2 to 2/3 of what I started with). I don't put anything else in it--I use this for a variety of purposes throughout the year--pasta sauce, Indian food, chili, etc. Therefore I don't want to bias it by pre-adding spices. Some people use saucing tomatoes for sauce, but I just use all the leftovers. The saucers definitely don't have as much juice and cook down faster, but otherwise don't seem to be any better. It's better if I can get the pot started on a Saturday afternoon, because it may take all the way until Sunday afternoon to be ready to can.