I was thinking about what to write about the other day and decided on a day spent with my husband fixing fence. Well, he would have none of that and it's probably for the best. One of us would have probably been in jail. Anyone that lives on a farm or ranch and tries to work with their spouse knows what I am talking about. So, we will leave that topic alone and go on to something much more exciting; tomato sauce! Not just tomato sauce but fresh tomato sauce. Nearly everything from my garden. The only thing I did not grow was the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and sugar. Every other ingredient came from my back yard and nothing could be better. So here we go. First you start with about 20 lbs of fresh tomatoes. Some people say you need to use the plum tomatoes and they may be true, but I like to mix them up and use a variety of types. Basically, if I grow it, it goes into my sauce.
The first thing you need to do is peel these babies. That is done by dipping them in boiling water for a minute or so and then putting them in ice cold water. I core them and the skins just slide off. While doing this check for any bad spots and remove them also. You want only the best quality for your sauce.
You can see in this picture the skins starting to crack and pull away from the tomato. This means it is ready to go to the cold water.
The tomato peeled and cored is now ready to go into the food processor to be chopped up. Save the skin and core for dehydrating and making a powder for flavoring other foods.
How chunky you want your sauce depends on how long you let it process. Simply a personal preference. I like mine pretty smooth.
Next come the fresh herbs. I use sweet basil and oregano. These also go to the food processor for chopping.
While you are getting everything ready, it is a good idea to also be getting your jars ready. I put mine in the dishwasher on the sanitize cycle and let them wash while I am cooking the sauce. You want your jars to be hot when you are filling them or they will crack.
The lids also have to be sterile. I usually boil them for 10 - 15 minutes right before I need them. Again, they need to be hot when you put them on the jars. The rims don't need to be sterile, but do need to be free from rust and dings.
Here is the completed sauce cooking down. To the tomatoes, peppers, onions and herbs I added sugar, salt, lemon juice and olive oil. The complete recipe will follow at the end.
While the sauce is cooking, I also get the pressure cooker ready. I have a All American and I cannot say enough about it. Make sure that you put the tray in the bottom and fill with about 3" of water. This tray keeps your jars off of the bottom of the cooker and allows water to circulate under the jars.
The rest of your prep includes having a clean area to fill the jars with a funnel to reduce the spills. I like to put everything on a clean towel and my hot pan close by on a cutting board. It is very hot!
Fill the jars leaving about and inch of head space. Wipe the rims with the clean towel and place a lid on them. Hand tighten the metal band on and you are ready to place in the pressure canner.
The finished product after processing for 25 minutes at 15 lbs. The poundage depends on the altitude where you live. Consult your product manual for the correct time and pressure to process. This sauce is great as a base for soup, stews and also to use on pasta. You can thicken to your liking by adding tomato paste. I prefer to use as it is, as I find it thick enough for what I need. We love it as the base sauce for lasagna.
Fresh Tomato Sauce
20 pounds of fresh tomatoes
8 green peppers
4 jalapeno peppers (optional)
4 lg onions
8 cloves garlic
2 Tbls salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
Large bunch of basil (1 cup ground up)
Fresh oregano (1/2 cup ground up)
1/2 cup olive oil
Grind up everything in the food processor after peeling tomatoes and cleaning seeds from the peppers, and skins from the onions and garlic.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Stir frequently. Let boil for 1 - 2 hours depending on how thick you want it. Add to clean hot canning jars and process according to your products recommendations. Makes 9 -10 quarts. Can be divided down to make less but I prefer to get as much as I can as it is a job getting everything ready.
Don't forget to dry the peelings and cores if you have a dehydrator. Makes a great powder for flavoring.
Today I spent the better part of the day in my high tunnel getting ready for fall. Yep, that's right. It was 90+ outside and I am thinking about fall. I started my trays that you see above with great dreams of fresh cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and broccoli to last me through the cold winter months ahead. Some may think I am a bit late to get them going but with the high tunnel for protection, I will be just fine.
In addition to starting the trays I performed some much needed maintenance on my tomato plants in hopes to keep them going as long as possible. I actually went through and pulled several that were not doing well so that I can concentrate on the healthy ones. As you can see, this guy does not look so good. It took me nearly 4 hours to get through 2 rows of tomatoes.
As you can see here, when I was done, it was all worth it. Much better airflow and cleaned up all the dead leaves. Now on to planting radishes.
If you are already into gardening, I am sure that you have heard of the Jang seeder. If you have not, you need to look it up. It is amazing and saves me a ton of time, A bit on the pricey side, but worth every penny. I will show you how to load the seed plates below. You need a specific size for each seed that you are going to plant. Today, I am doing radishes.
The first thing that you do is remove the cotter pin holding the main shaft in place. Next slip the shaft out.
Next, unscrew the white button screw. This will allow the entire cartridge to open up and you can remove the seed plate that is already installed so you can put the correct one for radish seeds in. I had a bean seed plate already in it as I planted beans last week.
Bean out and radish in.
Now just put it all back together and get your seed.
I am planting "Easter Egg" from Johnny's. I get a lot of my seeds from there. They are located in Maine, but ship very fast. I actually bought the Jang seeder from them also, as well as the row rake that you see below.
Add the seed, put on the lid, and the entire piece is ready to go into the Jang.
It just slips into the metal frame and snaps in place. Easy as pie. There are also gears that can be adjusted, but I generally don't mess with those. Just leave them the same for each plant. Now, we are ready to mark our rows. I already have the bed prepared.
This is the row marker I was referring to above. You slide the red pieces of pipe over the teeth to mark where your rows go. Just drag it along and walla, it's done.
Next, just drive the Jang up and down each row and your planting is finished my friend. Plants and covers all at the same time. I planted six rows of radishes in about 5 minutes.
The finished bed. Fresh radishes in about a month. Now off to check the cows.
Sandy loves to ride the Mule with me. It's kinda awkward though cause she wants to be right under my legs. The bigger she gets, the harder it is. We are going to have to come up with a new arrangement soon. By the way, notice my stylish cowboy boots.
You can't get a prettier picture to end the day with than this. Happy Gardening!
Friday is bread making day at my house. At least from the first of May through September. I make sourdough bread to sell at the local Farmer's Market. It started as a filler until my produce took off, but has now become a standard for my booth. I have developed quite a following. Having a sourdough start is like taking care of a child. It must be fed everyday, regardless of how you feel. Sometimes, I think that I almost hate it. You can keep it in the refrigerator after it gets developed, but I find that it stays better if I leave it out and just feed the darn thing.
This is what it looks like after the first rise. I push it down, and dump it out on my table to portion for another rise.
I try to make sure that each loaf is very close in weight to each other. It is weighed before baking and again after so that I can put the weight on my label. It loses a small portion of weight from baking.
Each batch that I make produces 6 loafs.
They are formed and allowed to rise in the pan before baking. I have a commercial proofer/heater that works great for this.
I bake them in a convection oven. It was a learning curve for me, but works out great. Found it on Craigs list and saved a bunch. Just don't ask my husband or son about the day we brought it home. It just so happens that I forgot to measure it and compare to the door of my barn kitchen. Needless to say we got it in, some hours later.
My pride and joy!
If you are in the area of the Lake of the Ozarks, be sure to stop by the market. We are there every Saturday morning, right on the square in Camdenton. I will be there with my bread and other items. Will talk about my fresh home made pasta next time.