Thursday, August 25, 2011

Preserving Floyd: Diced and Herbed Tomatoes

It occurred to me that many tomato recipes start out the same way: peel and core the tomatoes, crush, quarter or dice them.  Some variation occurs from this point.  The easiest way to peel massive amounts of tomatoes quickly is to blanch them and then shock them.  So bring a good sized pot half full of water to boil on the stove and fill your clean sink half full with cold tap water.  When the water in the pot is boiling, cut a small X just through the skin on the bottom of a tomato and drop it in the boiling water for about 30 seconds (blanching).  Remove it with a slotted spoon to the sink of cold water (shocking).
The blanched and shocked tomatoes almost peel themselves.
Allow the tomato to cool, then with a sharp paring knife remove the stem scar and core.  The skin should slip right off.  Place your peeled and cored tomato aside in a bowl.  You can drop several tomatoes into the boiling water at once and allow several batches of blanched tomatoes to cool in the sink together.

For Diced and Herbed Tomatoes I chopped my peeled tomatoes into large chunks

Next I chopped fresh basil, oregano, chives, parsley, cutting celery, and rosemary and combined them in a bowl.

Once the herbs were mixed I combined them with the tomatoes.

This is a raw pack recipe so you won't be cooking the tomatoes before jarring them.  It is boiling water bath processed but requires extended processing time to be sure that the heat penetrates completely to the center of the jar.  I pack these in pints but you may find quarts more useful.

Prepare your jars:
To each pint jar add 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  To each quart jar add 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

Pack the raw tomatoes into the jars pressing firmly, until they are within a generous1/2 inch from the top.  Press firmly on the tomatoes to make sure all air bubbles are gone and all spaces are filled with juice.

Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 85 minutes (adjusted for your altitude) for both pints and quarts.

These could be processed in a pressure canner instead of the water bath for less actual processing time, but by the time the pressure canner comes up to poundage plus processing time plus waiting for the pressure to release you may be over the 85 minutes the water bath takes.  I prefer the water bath because I don't have to babysit it as closely as I do the pressure canner and can accomplish another chore or two in that time.

I go through a lot of these in a year's time and put up a great many pints.  I find a half bushel of tomatoes (roughly 26 lbs) yields about 14 pints.

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