A friend is coming over in a few hours to can roasted tomato sauce with me. I don't bother with canning whole or chopped tomatoes. The roasted sauce serves equally well for pizza or pasta; we don't seem to miss store-bought canned tomatoes, so I don't see the need. If you'd like to see how the roasted tomato sauce is made, check out my post on it from last year. For the record, I pressure can this sauce at ten pounds of pressure for 25 minutes in quart jars. But please consult a reliable canning guide rather than taking any anecdotal canning recommendations you find in the blogosphere.
My canning goal for this year with regards to tomatoes is to get enough sauce into jars to see us through two years. I'm still traumatized by last year's late blight which left us with hardly any tomato crop to speak of. I canned only three quarts of sauce, which we soon ran through. I resolved to make a big effort this year if we had a good crop. If blight rears its ugly head again next year, I'll be able to coast through with what I put up now. If next year is a good tomato year, I can put up just one year's supply and still have a year's supply in reserve. So far it looks like June and July's blistering heat and little rain have protected us from blight and set us up for a good tomato harvest. My estimate for a two-year supply of tomato sauce is somewhere between 30 and 40 quarts. I'm going to try my best to put that much up in the next three to four weeks as the tomatoes come in. Extra quarts are always good to have for gifting. If our own supply of tomatoes is insufficient, I may resort to buying locally grown. But first I'm going to see how we fare on our own production.
Much of our cherry tomato crop is going to be smoked in our homemade trash can smoker. We're still slowly working our way through the apple wood chips we made ourselves from the first pruning of our apple tree after we move in three years ago. These are excellent material for smoking, and homegrown too. After smoking, I dehydrate the cherry tomatoes until they are shelf-stable. We then keep them on hand for adding to winter stews, pasta dishes, and polenta. Super-sweet cherry tomatoes smoked over our own apple wood give a marvelous flavor boost to winter meals.
Speaking of growing tomatoes, I have to gush a bit about the Speckled Roman tomato. My last few posts have included pictures of this beauty if you want to see what it looks like. I'm more and more impressed with it as time goes on. This variety is a stabilized hybrid of Banana Legs and Antique Roman tomatoes. "Stabilized hybrid" means that someone worked on the cross of the two parent varieties until they had a genetic line that breeds true. In other words, it's now open pollinated. In other other words, it's possible to save seeds from Speckled Roman tomatoes and reliably get Speckled Roman tomatoes from those seeds. I like the fact that it's open pollinated. I love their unusual and beautiful appearance. I like both the texture and flavor - meaty and solid enough to make a good slicing tomato, but full of well balanced tang and sweetness. I love the fact that they very rarely split; this characteristic redeems the only moderate production from each plant, since I can count on harvesting just about every fruit that forms. And I really appreciate the Speckled Roman's ability to resist late blight, which I saw first hand last year. This is only my second year growing this variety, but I'm definitely sold on it over other paste tomato varieties. In fact, I'm strongly considering making it my primary tomato in future years and planting only a couple of beefsteaks and cherries.
What Vegetables Are You Growing This Winter?
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