If August were a woman she would be draped in red, with long red hair, and a fiery temper. I'm pretty sure she just stormed into my house dumped a bunch of tomatoes and zucchini on my kitchen floor, looked at me lovingly, and, just as I was getting used to having her around, said she was about ready to leave. Sigh. That is the way of passionate love affairs, I guess. When it goes that way, you can usually console your self with a zip-up hoodie your fiery-tempered lover has left behind in their haste. In this way August's leaving me is similar. She is leaving her bounty for me to savor while she slips out the door and the slow, cool comfort of Autumn takes her place.
This year there are tomatoes! It is very exciting. So far, I have preserved them by:
1. Roasting and Freezing: Set your oven to 200 degrees, cut Tomatoes in half and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place tomatoes on the sheet cut side down. Roast for 2 hours. When they come out of the oven, let them cool so you can touch them. The skins with just slip right off. Pack a mason jar 2/3 full only! (the jar will crack in the freezer if it's more than that), and pop it in the freezer. These can be used later for sauce or soup. The roasting makes the flavor absolutely incredible.
2. "Sun Dry" (dehydrate): I sliced the big tomatoes into thirds and dehydrated them in my electric dehydrator for about a day. The plum tomatoes I sliced in half and dehydrated them for longer. The manual says it shouldn't take this long, but that's how long it took. I am still having trouble finding the right consistency. I know they should be leathery, but when they are they still seem wet, and I don't want them to mold. So the truth is some of them are a little crisper than usual. I'll have to soften them in water before I use them. I have also dehydrated the cherry tomatoes. We had an abundance, and I couldn't figure out what to do with them. We sliced them in half and dehydrated them (they are doing this right now) and I will pack them in olive oil in jelly jars.
3. Tomato Jam: What's tomato jam? I don't really know. It seems like it's similar to ketchup bu not as thick. My two-and-a-half-year-old says, "I yike dis tomato jam, Mama." I took the recipe from The Big Book Preserving the Harvest.
4. Tomato Sauce: This recipe I took from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. It is a water bath recipe, which means that it doesn't have to be pressure canned. It has lemon juice added to boost the acidity so we don't get botulism. I also boiled the ever-living life out of that stuff. So hopefully we won't all die from a home cooked spaghetti dinner.
I am hoping to make some salsa, some real ketchup, and some more tomato sauce. I don't really have enough right now to make it through winter. I think more than likely I will be spending the weekend gathering sauce tomatoes and canning. Which is fine, really. Now that the summer is coming to an end, my panicky feelings that it won't be enough are (mostly) turning into contended feelings of having done the best I could. And after last year, I'm grateful for any tomatoes.