CSA 2016 Week 14

Last pick-up/delivery of meteorological Summer! We have picked a few winter squashes and 1 pumpkin so in the coming weeks those will start to be added into the share. We grow about 12 varieties of winter squash and they all look fabulous. Tomatoes are still coming full force. As the weather (hopefully) cools down we will be adding baby greens (arugula, tatsoi, baby kale, vitamin greens, lettuce, beta greens), and radishes back into the share and we even planted some spinach and more beans. Sweet Corn started to tassel early last week so in about 2 weeks we should have some. The Melons are starting to ripen and the Eggplants should start producing. Summer squash is losing it’s momentum so there will be less in the coming weeks.

This week we will have summer squash, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onions, potatoes, husk cherries, a little bit of basil and possibly some watermelon.

husk cherries are a member of the tomato family they are these teeny tiny cherry tomatoes that grow inside a husk. The taste is like a tropical pineapple strawberry.

Our compost was finally approved by our Organic Certifier to be used directly on our crops. This is huge, it allows us to spread a thick layer around the plants, keeps moister in the soil, feeds those plants and suppresses weeds all at the same time. The Peppers and the Eggplants are the first ones to get this treatment and they are loving it.

So there have been a lot of tomatoes this season. We mowed over about 1/3 of our tomato crop due to the drought. It was sad, I may have cried, but it was necessary because of tomato diseases that could arise from the amount of stress those plants were under. This also allowed us to focus more on the rest of the crop and we are getting a bountiful harvest.

How to Preserve Tomatoes

There are several ways to do this. You could can them (it is not as hard as it sounds) or freezing (there are multiple ways to freeze tomatoes).

Cherry Tomatoes

They can be can be washed, layed out to dry and frozen on a baking sheet with parchment paper in a single layer. Once frozen they can be transfered into freezer storage bags or tupperware containers. These will keep for about 6 months or more. They are not good to be used in a salad but they can be roasted, added to warm pasta or into any cooked dish.

Almost Sun Dried Cherry Tomatoes

1-2 pints of cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup good olive oil
sea salt

Cut tomatoes in half and squeeze out seeds. Arrange on a baking sheet cut side up. drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 250° until the tomatoes look raisin like.
Cool and place on wax or parchment paper lined baking sheet and freeze. Place in freezer jars or freezer bags. Should store for 6 months plus.

These are great to have on a salad, just straight from the freezer or in any cooked dish.

Tomatoes

Canning:

I semi follow the directions from this site on canning http://www.pickyourown.org/canning_tomatosauce.htm

My big time saving adjustment is I have this wonderful little device called a food mill so I don’t flash boil to remove the skins. I simply slice the tomato in half, squeeze lightly the juices into a separate bowl ( I save this to I will get to that later) and throw the rest into a stock pot. Boil down to the consistancy I want and then follow the directions from above site for canning.

You could also use the above method and instead of canning freeze the sauce in containers or bags.

Tomato sauce can be used for marinara sauce by adding garlic and herbs, tomato soup, enchilada sauce, sloppy joes etc.

Now onto the juices in the separate bowl. I take the juice and seeds and run them through a mesh strainer. You can either consume it within the next day as drink with  a little salt and pepper if you desire or freeze the juice in wide mouth pint size canning jars. They have a line on them that shows you where to fill them to for freezer use. I use the frozen tomato juice to cook rice or mix it with a jar of tomato sauce 1:1 to make tomato soup. I do not recommend drinking the tomato juice after it has been frozen it isn’t the same.

Freezing:

Just like the cherry tomatoes you can wash and let the tomatoes dry, then freeze and deal with them when the weather is cool. ( I would recommend cutting them in half and squeezing the juices out first though). Use these frozen tomatoes to make sauce or in cooked recipes.

I like to make this sauce

Roasted Tomato Sauce

and then freeze it.

or you could cut the tomatoes in half squeezing out the juice. cut the remainder into large chunks removing the core and place in a crock pot to cook. about 8 hours on low. Then either run through a food processor or a food mill and freeze.

If you don’t have a food mill or a food processor I would recommend using the flash boil method to remove the skins and then hand mash the tomatoes with a fork or potato masher. The skins become tough and chewy when cooked.

Other recipes of interest

Quick Marinara Sauce

Fresh Tomato Salsa

Husk Cherry Pastries

Patty Pan Tomato Bake

Tomato & Basil Pasta

Yellow Squash Casserole

 

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