Friday, September 16, 2011

Finally, a way to preserve all those cherry tomatoes

The great thing about tomatoes is that they can be turned into tomato sauce. That's been the saving grace of my overabundant tomato harvest--I've been making batch after batch of fresh tomato sauce, then freezing it so I'll have fresh tomato yumminess to eat this winter.

But what to do with all those cherry tomatoes?

They can't easily be turned into sauce--it's too labor-intensive to peel and seed all those little tomatoes. They can't be frozen whole, my oven doesn't make a decent dehydrator (I tried, believe me; and I didn't want to sink money into a dehydrator just for tomatoes), the only other option I could come up with for preserving them was to make a lot of salsa and then can the salsa.

Or eat tomato salad every day for the next month, and I'm already tired of tomato salads.

BUT! I have found a way to preserve them! That is not labor-intensive!

Two magic words: food mill.

If you don't have one of these babies, run right out and get one. The food mill will turn your gently-cooked cherry tomatoes into fresh tomato goo--slightly thicker than tomato juice, runnier than sauce--that can be frozen or canned or added directly into a batch of tomato sauce.

My mom claims you can either a) cook down the tomato goo very gently, to get rid of some of the extra water, or b) just let it sit for a while, then pour off the water on top, to get a thicker goo. I did neither--I added half my new tomato goo to a current batch of tomato sauce, and froze the rest, to add to another batch of tomato sauce in the future.

So now my cherry tomato harvest CAN be made into sauce, with a minimum of effort on my part.

Just bring a pot of water to a boil, add the cherry tomatoes just for a minute or two, then drain. Add the slightly cooked cherry tomatoes to your food mill, and run them through on the finest setting. Collect the juice. Throw out the seeds and skins. From start to finish, the whole process took me 10 minutes, to use up a bowl of at least 100 big cherry tomatoes (which then became roughly 7-8 cups of goo).

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