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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Considering Bottled Tomatoes

I love cherry tomatoes as does OH.  I am pretty partial to the plum tomatoes as well.  I happened at dinner time yesterday to pop by the market to see what was available and I found cherry tomatoes at £1 a net at least 2 1/2 times the size of the punnets you get and I also found plum tomatoes at £1 a kilo.  Our household uses a lot of tomatoes during the year and for the past few years I have popped up at least 20 bottles of home oven roast tomato sauce which can be used as a base for pizzas, lasagne, bolognese or even popped into a stew, or used as a soup base, but in any event we use a lot of tomato products.  In previous years I have also frozen cherry tomatoes and then served them up with Sunday breakfast (fry up) frozen straight into the pan and they are delicious.

I do not have a pressure canner  I do have a pressure cooker which is not the same thing but it can be used for processing the tomatoes, alernatively  you can hot water bath process tomatoes.  Please be aware that I process my own tomato products because I know where they have come from  ( usually grow my own or buy from a trusted source) but products processed this way do not have as strong a flavour as the shop bought products so please do not expect the same flavours as the product you buy in the shop. They are totally different. The products are good but different but they can be pepped up by using fresh garlic fresh herbs, pepper etc.  I am loathe to add garlic to the raw ingredients as garlic can attract the wrong type of bacteria and can become overpowering so I am cautious where I use garlic preferring to add it later on. I tend to err on the side of caution when home preserving.

So I am planning to pay a trip to the market this weekend to pick up a load of cherry tomatoes and also some plum tomatoes and the plan is to start off this year's tomato store.  Even if you do a few bottles at a time week by week they soon build up and then when it comes to the winter months you have a ready store of good food product on which to build on and to keep your family fed.  Remember years ago people survived the winters mostly down to good housekeeping and putting stuff down for the winter months at the time it was fresh and in season.  It was vital then as it is now to keep your family well fed and doing a little bit at a time helps the purse and then does not make the job overwhelming either and once you have stocked up for the winter months that is something else less to think about when it comes to Pantry matters  How many bottles you put up will depend on your size of family; but I have found from personal experience that you make a few decide whether you like it and if you do you make the following year but increase the amount you process.  It seems to be a never ending piece of string. Remember though if you follow this type of food processing you will need to make sure you have somewhere to store it and as you get into it even add the more specialist equipment such as a Pressure Canner, Steam Canner, or bulk hot water bath processor (looks like a tea urn) but enables you to process more bottles in one go compared to doing a few at a time.  In the long term it will make your life easier but to start with is not necessary.  Just a deep stockpot to start with is ideal.

I intend to "Put Down" for the winter months this year the following:

Cherry tomatoes in brine
Tomatoes in brine
Solid Pack Tomatoes
Tomato Passata
Tomato Ketchup
Oven Roasted Tomato Pasta sauce
Bottled Tomato juice for home made "Bloody Marys" one of my mum's favourites.

So there is quite a bit to do.  I will pop up the recipes as I do them so that if  you want to have a go and dip your proverbial toe in the water you can do.  It is not complicated there is a process to follow but having ingredients in your pantry that are not necessarily available in the supermarket adds to the charm and the lure of home processed foods.

I will pop up how to process cherry tomatoes in brine to start with but that will be at the weekend and to make one batch you will need 1.5kg cherry tomatoes to make one batch.

Catch you later

Pattypan

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