Thursday, September 13, 2012

Putting Away Tomatoes

This Sunday's Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you can look forward to the following offerings from Sweetwater Farm and Fair Valley Farm:
  • bargain tomatoes (20 lb for $20 for many varieties, 10 lb for $15 San Marzano romas)
  • Akane apples and Asian pears from SLO Farm (add to a salad)
  • Italian prune plums (bake a galette)
  • cantaloupe and honeydew mellons
  • kohlrabi, baby carrots, and celery
  • kale and collards (try this kale pesto pizza)
  • eggplants and broccoli (try a roasted salad)
  • cucumbers and corn 
  • peppers both sweet and spicy (make a roasted vegetable barley risotto)
  • baby lettuce salad mix
  • zucchini and summer squash
  • red, white, and blue potatoes (make a frittata)
  • sweet onions, garlic, leeks, and fennel (make some pickles)
  • fresh herbs, including basil, cilantro, dill, thyme, oregano, and sage
  • tomato sauce and pesto
  • naturally fermented pickles, dilly beans, and sauerkraut
  • homemade jams (delicious in crepes)
  • Scottish oats (make this teff oatmeal)
  • a selection of dried beans and grains from Camas Country Mill
  • pastured chicken (try it spatchcocked)
  • pastured pork: bacon, ground pork, pork chops, shoulder roasts, ham roasts, spare ribs, and the best sausage for hash
  • pastured lamb: ground, stew meat, leg roast, rib chops, loin chops (try in gozleme)
A stop at the Market will be part of a busy day for University of Oregon students participating in the Office of Sustainability's Project Tomato. They will spend the week harvesting tomatoes at nearby farms and processing them into pizza sauce to be consumed in the University dining halls by their lucky classmates.

I did my own tomato processing last week, having snatched up a 10 pound flat of Sweetwater Farm's brilliant red romas. I followed these instructions for processing whole tomatoes, but rather than canning them, I took the easier route of freezing them in Ball plastic freezer jars. My flat of romas yielded four quart containers of whole tomatoes (each held about a dozen romas), plus a batch of tomato sauce and two sheets of slow roasted tomatoes. The whole ritual of coring and scoring, blanching and peeling, roasting and simmering, gave me immense satisfaction, and I can't wait to savor summer's flavors in soups, sauces and chilis over the winter.

Freezing Whole Tomatoes

Fresh, ripe tomatoes
Glass or plastic freezer jars (I packed ~12 romas per quart (32 fluid ounce) jar)

1. Boil water in a large pot.

2. Remove the tomato cores and score an X on the opposite end.

3. Set up a big bowl of ice water.

4. In batches of about a dozen, blanch the tomatoes in the boiling water for 1-2 minutes and then transfer them to the ice bath.

5. Remove the skins, which will have blistered, and pack them into the jars up to the fill line (leave some room to allow for them to expand when frozen).

6. Close the lids loosely and label. When the tomatoes are completely cooled, tighten the lids and freeze.

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