The paste (or plum, or Roma) tomatoes are all starting to come ripe. I've been taking them off the vine just before ripe, if possible, and bringing them in to the house to ripen there, just to thwart the squirrels. After a while, they start to pile up.
Today I weighed what I had collected, and I had about three pounds. Not much, but enough to try a new project. All recipes I look at for tomato canning call for 25 pounds or more of tomatoes, but I don't mind making smaller batches. Today's batch was super small, but since I was trying something new, it was ok. If I didn't like it, I wouldn't have wasted a huge amount on my experiment.
I intend to raw-pack beefsteak tomatoes when they start to accumulate, or make crushed tomatoes from those (as well as tomato juice and salsa). I wanted to make sauce from these thick-walled, meaty paste tomatoes. Last year I made tomato paste and I just felt like it was too long a cooking process for such little result, and I never did get it as thick as storebought. So I can thought tomato puree might be the ticket - I can use that a hundred different ways throughout the winter. Then I found a recipe in Mrs. Wheelbarrow that really fit the bill: fire-roasted tomato puree.
It's a simple process - you merely slice the tomatoes in half and roast them cut side up (with salt only) until they are very soft but not black. (I found that foil lining the baking sheets really helped with clean up.) The skins and seeds are not removed, giving the final result even more flavor. At this point, you could just cool them and freeze them in mason jars; but I pureed them, then put them back on the stove to heat up again - with the addition of some citric acid, they can be water-bath canned. (I'm not giving a precise process here because I didn't want to 'steal' the recipe - and I think the book is worth purchasing.)
While I was roasting the paste tomatoes, I also roasted some cherry tomatoes to have in the fridge for snacks.
My three pounds of tomatoes only yielded one pint jar of puree, but there was enough left in the pan for all of us to taste, and MAN. I can't say enough about the flavor. Just tomatoes and salt, and the flavor is unbelievable. I may do all the paste tomatoes this way.
Anyway, the first tomato canning project is out of the way. It takes a couple of times to get back in the swing of things. Tom's been canning jam (strawberry, peach, blueberry) every weekend that he can, so he's already got his canning muscles back. Tom's our jam and pickle guy. I'm the tomato guy (gal). Pretty soon we'll have so many tomatoes that I'll be canning a batch every couple of days, so it won't take long to remember how it all works.