Tag Archives: how to can tomatoes

Homemade Ketchup & Other Garden Goodies

Ratty tomato plants in September

My tomatoes

I know, it’s been awhile since I posted. I’ve been busy!

My garden is looking a bit ratty, especially the tomatoes. Because of all the rain we have had, you can see that almost every plant has Septoria.  The yellow-ringed brown spots cover many of the leaves and the ones farthest gone have turned brown and died.

Septoria damage on tomatoes

Septoria

 

Despite the bout with disease, the absolutely drenching rains and the wonky temperatures, as you can see, these plants continue to produce. I am getting 2 to 3 quarts of Fox Cherry, Atomic grape and Genovese tomatoes every 2 or 3 days!

And I have a volunteer Fox Cherry that decided to plant itself in my compost bin and this baby is producing fruit that is just now starting to ripen. Oh my, more tomatoes! I’ve already made sauce, salsa, scallopine and paste!

Fox cherry volunteer tomato

Volunteer Fox Cherry is huge!

Today, in self defense, I am making ketchup. This is a first for me but I am LOVING what I see and smell.

There are a lot of recipes online for homemade ketchup but the one I liked best was by Pioneer Woman.

Homemade ketchup

Ketchup bubbling away!

This recipe has the least amount of sugar and the subtlest spicing done with fresh onions and garlic, also from my garden.

Homemade wine vinegar

Homemade wine vinegar

 

 

And I got to use some of the wine vinegar I made and bottled last year. The color, flavor and taste of this vinegar is superb — a full mouth feel and soft wine finish.

The recipe for this amazing and rich tasting ketchup is below!

Blueberry, blackberry and cherry jams are lined up on my pantry shelf. Blackberry and cherry brandy are aging in gallon jugs.  And I’ve put up eggplant, green beans, made salsa, scallopine, tomato sauce and tomato paste!

Linus loves the garden.

Linus loves the garden.

So this has been a very good year for my garden. And for my volunteers…who include this new rescue Westie, Linus!

Linus joined our family a short 8 weeks ago after the tragic death of one of our Westies, Spike. He has settled in and is really loving the back yard!

One last thing to share. This is a bite I sustained last Tuesday. It is most likely that of a brown recluse spider. The pain was immediate and immense. Almost simultaneously, my arm stared to itch. There was a single strike mark which raised into a 1/4 inch high blister surrounded by a 2 inch square of rapidly rising smaller blisters.

Week old brown recluse spider bite

Week old spider bite

I did not consult a physician but did use my family’s tried and true remedy for all bites – a baking soda paste, applied immediately to the wound.

The pain and the itching were completely controlled but this bite mark is persisting and will probably leave a scar, maybe in the shape of a heart!

So, in this very wet summer, please make sure you keep your eyes open, be careful and enjoy the fruits of all of your labors.

Recipe: Pioneer Woman Homemade Ketchup

INGREDIENTS
8 Tablespoons Olive Oil
12 cloves Garlic, Minced
4 Medium Onions, Diced
8 Quarts processed tomatoes
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 & 1/3 cup Apple Cider or Wine Vinegar
4 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons Chili Powder
1 teaspoon each of Powdered Ginger, Ground Allspice & Cinnamon

NOTE: if making large batch of ketchup, simply determine total ounces of tomatoes and increase all other ingredients, accordingly.

Directions:
Process tomatoes using the Vittorio juicer to remove seeds and skins. Put tomatoes in large, non-reactive sauce pot and cook overnight on very low flame to reduce and boil off water.

Heat a large, non-reactive frying pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and onions, sauté until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add sugar, molasses and vinegar to the onion mixture and bring to a slow boil, lower to a simmer and cook for 10 to 12 minutes while the sauce reduces and thiikens slightly..

Add the onion mixture to the tomatoes and continue to simmer, uncovered overnight until very thick. NOTE: Because there is added sugar in this recipe, make sure to keep an eye on it and stir it to keep it from scorching.

Jar and, depending on jar size (pints or quarts) water bath appropriately. Cool, label and store.

 

 

 

 

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Top Canning Tips for Harvest Season

It’s almost the end of September but here in Zone 6b, I’ve prepped the

Blackberries ready for next Spring.

Blackberries trimmed and mulched for next Spring.

blackberries for next spring, pruned the blueberries, pulled out the eggplant and sunflowers and planted beets, lettuce and kale.

But I am still harvesting tomatoes, Italian peppers and green beans! The season is ending a whole lot warmer than it began so I am leaving these plants in place so I can get as many of the veggies as possible.

I can only eat so much in a day so I learned how to preserve my harvest early in my gardening life. In fact, I have been preserving my harvest for well over 25 years and have learned a few things the hard way. But I think the folks at Eartheasy have captured some of the best canning tips .

I do have a couple of others to add to the list:

  1. Heat your jars in the oven — at a very low temperature – to sterilize them. I just lay them down on a cookie sheet and put them in at 175 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. This method is easier for me than trying to time the dishwasher to your canning project and safer than pouring boiling water in jars.
  2. Make sure your water bath is boiling before you put the jars in. I always start it a bit early just in case. I can turn the flame down if I’m not ready for it but I know my water bath is there for me when I need it. And I know I won’t over process or under process.
  3. Heat your jar lids. I boil water in a pan then put the lids and rings together and drop them in the hot water. This help to heat up the thin rubber seal on the jar lid and sterilizes the rings – two important factors of successful canning.
  4. If what you’re canning is not acidic, use your pressure cooker! Tomatoes are okay in a water bath; green beans are NOT!
  5. When in doubt — throw it out. If you take a jar off your shelf in the pantry and the color just doesn’t look right or it’s sticky on the outside or the lid is lifted, toss it out! Better to be safe than sorry when it comes to home canning.

I also use my dehydrator to preserve my harvest for everything from cherries and apples to tomatoes and herbs.

And I freeze crops, too. Open my freezer door in January and you will find zucchetti spaghetti, shredded zucchini, sliced and fried eggplant slices, blanched green beans, whole frozen plum tomatoes and fresh frozen pasta sauce mixed in with bags and bags of blueberries, blackberries and cherries.

Think of all the work you put in to get to harvest then think of ways of saving as much as possible. You’ll be happy you did when snow is falling and wind is howling outside and you are sitting down to eggplant parmesan or butternut kale quinoa soup.

Happy harvesting everyone!

ps – please forgive the gap in posting. My husband has been ill and out of work for 6 weeks but is on the mend, now.