8/18/09

I say too many

My father-in-law planted a garden in my backyard, and it produced tomatoes:



Lots of tomatoes. Lots and lots of tomatoes:




Now, some people claim that there is nothing more delicious than a fresh tomato, but unfortunately, none of those people live in my house. But as much as I didn’t really want to eat all these tomatoes, I also didn’t want to waste them, so I decided to preserve them. My family does love pasta, after all, and pizza and lasagna too (well, except for Phoebe, but she doesn’t like anything that is not a grain of some kind), and I thought it would be great to have a bunch of fresh-made tomato sauce on hand for the long winter months ahead.

So I found a recipe for making fresh tomato sauce (and freezing it – I wasn’t keen on canning, I’m not that domestic) and set aside Saturday for the project. And – well, here’s the thing. When you blog, sometimes there are certain experience that you look at from a blogger’s point of view, right? So I not only documented the process with photos, but I also kind of kept a running commentary in my head, and at certain steps I’d think, here’s when I’ll write that things were not going well, but by the end I’ll show that it all turned out to be worth it after all – which turned out to be not quite the case, but I guess that just adds to the fun, right?

Anyway.

So. I had, I guess, about 4 dozen tomatoes on Saturday afternoon. Now, my recipe said to use tomatoes that had been fresh-picked – as in, picked that very day -- but honestly, I don’t know what kind of tomato plants this recipe writer has going on, but my tomatoes didn’t all ripen on the very same day. So I had some that had been in the fridge for at least a week, and were getting a bit leathery, and I had others that were still the slightest bit green. I figured it would all balance out.

First, I cored and chopped. This is about halfway through:





Then I pureed. I don’t have a full-size food processor, so I had to use my Magic Bullet. This took a long, long time.

Here’s the pot full of tomato puree. It looked distinctly pink and frothy.



The recipe said to simmer the puree for 6-8 hours, stirring every half-hour. I told Chris we wouldn’t be going out to dinner that night.

About halfway through cooking. It was also about halfway reduced; the color had deepened, and it smelled good. (Although Mallory complained that she didn’t like the tomato odor at all.)



About six hours in, it was nice and thick, but also full of seeds and pulp and things. The recipe said that removing the seeds was optional, but that leaving the seeds in could result in “bitterness”. I decided to run it through a food mill to get rid of the debris.

Ew:



Of course, what remained after the milling was very thin – it was more tomato juice than tomato sauce, so I had to return it to the pot and cook it for an additional hour to thicken it back up. By this time it was eleven o’clock and I was heartily sick of tomatoes. When the hour was up I put the lid on the pot and stowed the whole thing in the refrigerator, not wanting to mess with portioning it up for freezing that night.

The next morning, though, I divided it up in these two-cup containers.



And that’s what I got. After all those tomatoes, all the chopping and pureeing and cooking and stirring, I ended up with eleven measly cups of tomato sauce. Which is maybe three jars of Prego. And it still seemed kind of thin, so when I use it, I’m going to have to bulk it up with…canned tomato sauce. Along with whatever herbs and spices and whatnot it takes to make a yummy sauce. Which I probably won’t figure out on my first try, because I’m not an instinctively good cook, so it’ll probably take me two or three attempts to make anything decent out of this sauce. And then it will be gone. For good, because I’m not doing this again, ever.

Except…this is what I found in my garden last night:



Sigh. I think this time I’ll just make some salsa.

2 comments:

aimee said...

That is hilarious. Because that would be something I would do and be so disappointed that I would never ever do it again.

H Noble said...

Good for you for trying! Our two tomato plants: one has made one tomato all summer and the other makes little tomatoes the size of your fingernail, and Eli eats them off the plant before I ever get to them. Sigh. Wish I lived closer to you b/c we love tomatoes!!!