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Canning / Freezing Tomatoes

Many recipes below for skins off or on options to canning or freezing tomatoes whole or cooking down into sauce.

For Canning:

Skins need to be removed before canning tomatoes whole.  You'll need to boil a big pot of water, and then briefly blanche the tomatoes in the hot water (until the skins either just crack or appear dull and loose). Fish tomatoes out and put them in a sink of cold water. When cool enough to touch, remove skins and follow normal instructions for canning tomatoes using either a boiling water canner.  

For Freezing:

You have two options: Skins on or off

1. Skins Off:  You can follow blanching instructions above and freeze tomatoes whole in quart or gallon freezer bags. You can also freeze them in bags in which the air has been removed using a vacuum sealer. Vacuum sealers are nice, because they prevent freezer burn and the bags take up a little less space in the freezer. 

2. Skins On: If you run out of time (that never happens), you can also freeze tomatoes with their skins on. Just put them in freezer bags, using vacuum sealer or not, and put them in your freezer.  In the fall or winter, when you want to use them in a stew, for example, just toss in how many tomatoes you want, and the skins will slough off. You just have to fish the skins out using tongs. Easy!

For making sauce:

1. Skins off:  Follow blanching instructions for removing skins, then cut tomatoes in quarters and put in a heavy bottom pot with olive oil, and cook on medium on your stove top until cooked down. It typically takes me 3 hrs to cook down 8 quarts of tomatoes down to 3 quarts of sauce. While the tomatoes are cooking down, I just stir them periodically while I'm doing other things around the  house.  Note that the sauce may stick a little to the bottom of the pan. This is okay, but recommend not scraping the bottom. Just stir the sauce to help the reduction process. Note that there is a difference between some of it sticking and it burning on bottom. Watch the heat level. As the sauce gets thicker you'll need to turn down the heat to medium and medium/low. It depends on your stove. If too hot, it can burn what is stuck to the bottom and leave your sauce with a burnt taste.  So, if it is your first time, make sure you check it periodically and taste periodically to make sure your heat isn't too high.  You can cook the sauce down to the consistency you like for either spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce. Once the sauce is cooked down, you can add seasonings then and simmer to incorporate flavors or leave the sauce as is and add the seasonings when you are ready to use the sauce. When sauce is ready, put in fridge and use that week or freeze in freezer bags and use any time.

2. Skins On: Okay, this is the easiest, least time method of making sauce. I start out with the same heavy bottom pot, put a few tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom, then cut tomatoes in half or quarters, and put them in the pot with skins on. As the tomatoes start to cook down, they'll start to make their own liquid, which will serve to blanche the tomatoes and skins will slough off easily. Once the liquid forms in the pot, I periodically check on the tomatoes and peel the skins off of the tomatoes using tongs.  The rest is the same as for skins off, cooking down into sauce.

3. Use JUICER with Skins On: Another skins on option that was shared by one of our customers is to just whir your tomatoes in a Vitamix (or other brand juicer), after cutting out stem. Then just cook it down to sauce just like above. She says the skins don't affect the flavor. Give it a try!

That's it! 

Sassafras Creek Farm

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