Summer Breeze Brings Autumn Leaves


After a week of complete and utter disbelief and disgust that my beloved summer was coming to an end, the tomatoes and squash coaxed me out of it with their vivid colors, complex flavors, and just pure mass in numbers and size, saying, “Hey you, it’s autumn now, deal with it!” Ok, ok tomatoes, fine.

The last two Saturday markets, I have been so grateful to receive the “to be composted” tomatoes equaling about 60 pounds of sweet juicy deliciousness. So, if any of you actually know me, I do not like tomatoes. But I have been making it my mission to try the little sweet ones as often as possible as to try to deceive my taste buds into thinking that they actually like them. So far, it hasn’t totally worked, but it is getting better. Therefore, unfortunately, none of the 60lbs went to fresh salsa, caprese salad, or BLTs. But Fortunately! 2 pressure canners, 3 crock pots, 1 hour of skinning and seeding, and 3 sinks full of dishes,  it went to about 16 pints of marinara sauce, 12 pints of corn salsa, 6 pints of spicy salsa, 6 quarts of whole tomatoes, 5 pints of BBQ sauce, and 5 pints of roasted red pepper ketchup (split between myself and the lovely ladies who helped to make it all possible). The ketchup recipe is from the canning book “Put Em Up”:

2 pounds tomatoes
2 pounds red bell peppers
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon salt
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1. Prepare an ice-water bath in a large bowl or clean sink.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the tomatoes into the water, no more than 1 pound at a time, and return to a boil. Blanch for 1 minute.
3. Scoop the tomatoes out of the water with a slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice-water bath. Continue blanching the tomatoes in batches. Remove from the ice bath and drain. Peel, core, and crush the tomatoes. [Blog author’s note: I’m including a link to a “spider” because I didn’t know what it was!]
4. Char the bell peppers (as described below) and roughly chop.
5. Combine the tomato pulp, peppers, onion, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, garlic, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves in a large nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Remove from the heat and puree with a stick blender. (Be careful of the boiling mixture — hot things are hot.)
6. Return the puree to the heat and simmer over low heat until thickened, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove from the heat.
Can: Use the boiling-water method. Ladle into clean, hot 4-ounce or half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands. Process for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
I also found a more complex recipe that I havent tried, but I believe it will turn out closer to the “conventional” Heinz-style ketchup. The “Pick Your Own Food” website (where this recipe is found) is a great resource for so many things… I cant believe I havent mentioned it yet. Finding u-pick farms, food preservation tips, recipes, and local events are just a few things this website offers. Its a really cute site and program and all of the information I have found on it has been accurate.
That was a weird tangent, but anyways, good stuff happening in the kitchen.I recently made white raspberry and fig jam, blackberry jam, figs in a honey sauce, (a second go at) strawberry jam, and I just canned some good ol’ bodacious corn. Today I have a big project of apples and asian pears and also heading out to pick the second season peaches at Detering.
If there is one thing that I absolutely am certain about this time of season, it’s late summer/fall vegetables get big, and they get big fast… and not only do they get big alone, they have friends with them. So I have been trying to find creative ways to use up all these sweet, enormous veggies.For those enormous zucchinis I use them in things with added flavor (because the bigger the zuke gets the less flavor it has): spicy zucchini bread (i have been working on a recipe that only uses local ingredients), zuke and carrot fritters, and a new recipe I learned about at the Urban Farm, stuffed zucchini. Split the zuke in half, scoop out all that good stuff, saute it with onion/shallot, garlic, and whatever else sounds tastey, in butter, add breadcrumbs, scoop back into the zuke, and sprinkle with cheese (I used bleu), then bake in the oven until desired textured is reached. I was also told to dry melons. I was skeptical at first because of the high water content and the worry that I could create some gross musky mess, but they actually work quite well and taste deeelish. It takes about 2 melons to make a sandwich baggy full though, so load up on them melons!
Well, off to can! Happy autumn! Oh, forgot to mention…. we are going to start rearing rabbits. More on that soon…

About Megan French

I am a dreamer. I am a hopeful soul that thinks one day we could come together to support each other in a community; support one another's services, hard-work, products, and knowledge. I hope that one day we can be global and local thinkers; supporting each other economically through local interactions and supporting the world globally by respecting other cultures and learning from them. Through local thought and community relationships we can clean up our world environments, power figures, and idea about what is most important in our lives. It all begins with knowledge and understand about how to get back to the basics: cooking, sewing, foraging, preserving, scouting... DIY for life and for the future of our society.

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