Tag Archives | tomatoes

End of Season Tomatoes and Drying Tiny Tomatoes

a flat of small tomatoes

A few weeks ago, I found myself feeling anxious about the state of my tomato preserves. I’d already sauced 50 pounds of heirlooms, but hadn’t managed to get any Roma or paste tomatoes to can whole or in halves. In a frenzy only other canners will understand, I started reaching out to some of my regular tomato sources, hoping to get another 25 or 50 pounds to preserve.

In the end, I was too late. Unable to get my hands on any tomatoes appropriate for canning whole, I settled for two flats of tiny tomatoes (they were mostly grape and Sungolds) and another ten pounds of heirlooms. Not exactly what I wanted, but in the end, they managed to calm my inner pioneer.

halved small tomatoes

I roasted and canned the heirlooms according to Kaela’s instructions (though I included a bit more of their liquid than she does). I wound up with seven precious pints, and they will be carefully rationed throughout the winter.

The small tomatoes became three separate products. I made a batch of honey sweetened tomato jam. I roasted, milled, spiced, and simmered ten pounds into pizza sauce (more on that tomorrow). And I carefully halved and arranged the remaining eight pounds on dehydrator trays and dried them into tomato candy (two batches through the dehydrator, in all).

dehydrated grape tomatoes

I posted pictures of my racks of drying tomatoes on Instagram and got a number of questions about how I do it and how I use them. The how is easy. I wash the tomatoes, pick them over to ensure that I don’t have any that are starting to go bad, slice them in half, and arrange them on the trays. Over the course of the next 12-14 hours, the machine does the rest (set at 135 degrees F, the suggested temp).

finished dried tomatoes

Once the tomatoes are entirely dry, I unstack the trays and let them cool. I spread a towel on the countertop and use a combination of shaking and banging to remove the from the trays. They get stored in either a jar or a zip top plastic bag and my dried tomatoes are done.

After I’ve admired them for a week or two, I start using them. I stir them into quinoa salad. I make Tara’s zucchini noodle salad. I use them to garnish soup. I make batches of savory granola and use the dried tomatoes instead of raisins. Sometimes I nibble a few while making dinner. They are always a welcome addition to my pantry and when they run out, I wish I’d made more. Such is the way of preserving.

Do you guys dry tomatoes? How do you use them?

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Live Online Tomato Canning Class Tonight!

two crates of tomatoes

Tomato season is upon us! Join me tonight for a one-hour long tomato canning class. In this session, I’ll demonstrate how to prep tomatoes for canning and show you how build a water packed jar. We’ll talk about safety, best tomato practices, and I’ll answer all your questions!

The class starts at 8 pm eastern time and the fee is pay what you want. Join up over on Concert Window.

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Upcoming Classes: Online! Collingswood! DC! Carlisle!

class image revised

We are heading into the home stretch of summer. If you haven’t yet pulled out your canning pot this season, consider taking a class to help boost your preservation mojo. I’ve got a handful of in-person classes on the schedule, as well as a pair of live online classes.

These online classes have been a total delight. Three times now, I’ve hosted them from my kitchen and a happy crowd of 20-25 people have tuned in. The conversation in the chat room has been consistently lively and I so enjoy the sense of community that builds over the course of an hour. If you haven’t joined one yet, I highly encourage you to do so!

Tuesday, August 4 – Live online class via Concert Window! This time, I’ll be talking about pickling (quick, processed, and fermented) starting at 8 pm eastern time. Class is pay what you wish. Sign up here.

Wednesday, August 5 – Small batch canning demo and book signing at the Collingswood library. 6:30-8 pm. Free!

Saturday, August 8 – Canning classes at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, DC. The morning session is Pickled Carrots Two Ways (10 am to 12 noon) and the focus of the afternoon session An Introduction to Preserving Beets. That afternoon session will include a pressure canning demonstration.

Tuesday, August 11 – Jam making class through the Cumberland County Society of Farm Women in Carlisle, PA. Class is from 6:30 – 8:30 pm and costs $15. Contact Deb Yorlets at 717-574-2217 to sign up.

Wednesday, August 26 – Live online class via Concert Window! This class will be all about canning tomatoes. I’ll demonstrate how to cold pack and process whole tomatoes starting at 8 pm eastern time. Class is pay what you wish. Sign up here.

Friday, August 28 through Sunday, August 30 – Canning workshop at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. More details here.

Wednesday, September 2 – Low Sugar Plum Jam with Weaver’s Way. I’ll show you how to make a lower sugar jam using late summer plums and Pomona’s Pectin in the kitchen at the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting House. 7-9 pm. Click here to register.

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Preserves in Action: Shredded Chicken Chili

pulled chicken chili

On Wednesday, I wrote about how to make your home canned beans from dried (have you entered the giveaway sponsored by Mighty Nest yet?). Since so many of you mentioned in the comments that you like to use canned beans in chili, I thought that I’d share the basic chili recipe I use all the time. It uses 2-3 jars of beans and at least 2 quarts of preserved tomatoes.

When I have the time, I braise boneless skinless chicken thighs in puree of tomatoes, onions, garlic cloves, and fresh cilantro leaves until they shred easily. If I’m running short on time, I skip the braised chicken and instead just stir a pound ground turkey meat directly into the cooking chili (in that case, I add both jars/cans of tomatoes directly to the cooking chili). Of course, another option is to skip the meat entirely, but it would make my husband sad if I did that in our household.

pulled braised chicken

Let’s have a word about this shredded chicken. It’s an awesome addition to chili, but that’s not all it’s good for. I’ve been known to eat it wrapped in a tortilla or spooned over some braised greens. It’s incredibly flavorful and easy to make. I’ve taken to keeping a batch stashed in our freezer for lazy nights. Oh! One last thing about this chicken. Sometimes the onions make it a little bit sweet and so I’ll add either a splash of lime juice or the brine from a jar of pickled jalapeños to balance things out.

My apologies for the less than stellar photos in this post. I made this chili for dinner one night and forgot entirely to take pretty pictures. I snapped the image at the top of the post (it was the very last bowl) just moments before I ate it for a quick solo dinner. And we all know, the total lack of natural light in my kitchen makes photography hard, even on the most lovely natural light days.

But enough of that. On to the recipe!

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