Yes I Can

Finally… the bombardment of tomatoes begins.

The grape tomatoes (Ildi) have been insane this year- we can barely keep up.   Almost every day I go out there with my apron with the front pocket, and every time, I come back with a belly full of tomatoes.  Luckily, they are so sweet, its just like grabbing a handful of candy.  I have to say, I think we’ll grow a few less of these next year- not that I don’t like them, its just, they are best fresh and I like to save some of the tomato-ey goodness by canning.  My husband was in charge of labeling the little seedlings this past spring, and I can’t say he’ll be taking on that job again next year!  We basically lost track of what was what!

Ildi and Chocolate Cherry

The chocolate cherry tomatoes are beautiful too, but I gotta say, I find the skins a little tough.  I canned a small batch of them and removed the skins.  They look really pretty in the jars.

Anyways, last week, enough of the larger, red tomatoes were ripe that it was time for some canning.  As you may know, the first week of September was HOT in Lethbridge (lovely!) and it was too hot to turn the oven inside the house.  What I usually like to do is halve the tomatoes, sprinkle them with herbs, garlic, s&p, olive oil and balsamic, and roast them in the oven, puree them, and can them.  On this particular day, I had full reign of the house; my hubby was gone and I thought, “BBQ!”  So I prepared the tomatoes (roma and duchess) as above and roasted them on the barbecue!  It was actually a lot of fun and waaay faster than the oven.  Each batch of tomatoes on the grill only took about 5 minutes.  I have a cast iron grill on my bbq- its quite thick so things don’t fall through- I am not sure how this would work with the stainless steel type.

Then I canned everything and ended up with two different types of sauce; one more of a puree as I didn’t strain out the extra juice, and one a true sauce with the juice strained out and thickened longer on the stove.  Not bad!  They definitely have some bbq essence!

I also stumbled upon this excellent post on how to preserve 100 + lbs of tomatoes with almost no work.  I LOVE #2 tomato sauce for busy people.  A no frills approach- seeds, skins, keep all that tomatoey goodness!  (except if you have the really tough skins like those chocolate cherry tomatoes!)

Round 2 of tomato sauce is coming soon- as soon as the roma’s turn red (man.. everything is so late this year!)

Food in Jars

I’ve been spending some time lately preserving some of the spring harvest by canning.  A while back, I stumbled upon the blog Food in Jars, and its been such a great resource.  I love Marisa’s small batch recipes that don’t require a huge investment of time or produce.  Often they give you 2 or 3 jars of jam or pickles, which is just perfect for me (there’s only so much you can eat and give away- besides, there’s too many recipes I want to try to invest so much in one go!)

Here’s what I’ve made recently:

Pickled wild asparagus
My hubby went and did one last harvest in the coulees, and then he had to leave town for about a week.  So I thought I’d surprise him by not eating it all myself and preserving it instead!  I used the Small batch refrigerator pickles recipe and blanched the asparagus first.  These are so much better than any store bought.  I had to add a little extra vinegar and this gave me 2 large jars.

Pickled Spring Onions
Having finished off a jar of the aforementioned pickled wild asparagus, I didn’t want to throw that yummy, garlicky, dilly brine away.  And the zucchini patch is slowly taking over some of my onions in the garden, so I pulled a bunch and cut the white parts into 4 or 5 inch lengths.  I packed a jar full and re-boiled the brine and added a bit of extra vinegar.  Voila!  I haven’t tried them yet but I think they’d be good chopped up in a salad, or on a cheese plate with some crackers, or maybe chopped up on a veggie burger.

Rosemary Rhubarb Jam
This one got me excited.  I’ve have a slight obsession with rosemary ever since I visited Sooke, BC where it grows in bushes and the air is filled with its scent.  I’ve had a potted rosemary plant for a few years now and its never really produced much, but I still love it (and even hung some Christmas decorations on it last year).  Its living outside for the summer, which I think is doing it well:

I like weird combinations of flavors too, and since I had plenty of each of these on hand, I had to give it a go.  I’m quite proud of the result- I like how the rosemary taste is not too over powering, but still there.  The flavor and color of this jam can only be described as earthy- it reminds me of walks in the west coast forests- makes me feel like I am in a pine forest foraging for berries!  The amount of sugar is a little more than I would like to put in a jam, but then again, rhubarb is pretty tart.  This recipe produced quite  a bit of jam, 4 jars and a bit, enough to share for sure!

Small Batch StrawberryVanilla Jam
Lots of sugar again in this one, but the lemon was a really nice surprise, and I think I will be adding it to my jams again in the future.

 

Have you preserved or canned anything this spring?  What are you favorite recipes?