Save the Tomatoes!

Last week it was summer, remember?

Seattle Pops selfie

 It was hot, there was music, there was a choice of refreshing refreshments. There was even a summery new vendor:

Niño Blanco Foods had salsa for sale, in mild, medium and spicy, along with fresh pico de gallo and pickled jalapeños (which I recently learned, at a Mariners game, taste awesome on tater tots).

But summer has vanished, and the recent downpours have made me fear for the rest of my husband's tomato crop. I've made pico de gallo regularly, and Caprese salads like they're going out of style, but the threat of mold calls for stronger measures. It calls for tomato sauce and tomato soup, both of which are made with the same ingredients.

5 lbs of tomatoes
A chopped onion
3 Tbsp of butter

You destem the tomatoes, whack them up in huge chunks, and cook over medium heat.

If you have a food mill, there's no need to peel or seed tomatoes before cooking

For tomato sauce, twenty minutes will break them down. You then put them through the food mill and continue to heat the puree until it's the desired thickness. (For watery Early Girls, this is a pretty long time...)

For tomato soup, you let them simmer up to three hours and then put them through the food mill. Add salt and pepper and fresh basil to taste. Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches.

I have this exact food mill, and I like it for its simplicity. No interchangeable parts, no electronics that break. Just prop it over a pot and use good, old-fashioned muscle power.

In any case, you don't need homegrown tomatoes to make sauce or soup. Our farmers have plenty, and then you could actually start with meatier tomatoes! Ask for opinions, or mix a variety of them. The Market continues, rain or shine.

Yes, We Can Can

The woman sews, too

The turning of the seasons has brought my annual salsa canning date with my neighbor. If you grew tomatoes this year, you know we've reached the point where the vines are withering and turning bleh, but the tomatoes are hanging on and tasting wonderful.

Mrs. Neighbor is cooking up vats of marinara and salsa, and even peeling and dicing raw tomatoes and throwing them in the freezer to be used in those winter recipes that call for "one can diced tomatoes."

While I'm still canning-impaired (meaning, I only do it when someone else invites me to help and that other person is equipped and in charge), I decided to share our fabulous recipe with those who are canning-gifted or just more daring than I am. Proper equipment does help, like a canning rack that fits in a big kettle and jar-lifter tongs, but other than that, everything else is pretty straightforward.

Got this pic from
And this baby from!

One quick tip: sterilize those jars in the dishwasher!

And line up your lids and such:

Give 'em a quick dip in a skillet of simmering water right before you put them on

Yeah, yeah, say you experienced canners, But what about the recipe?

Mrs. Neighbor got this recipe from her boss's Korean dry cleaner's mother, so you know it's got to be good. As usual, I've put asterisks by all the items you can find at our friendly neighborhood farmers market.

Korean Dry Cleaner's Mother's Salsa
1 gallon peeled, coarsely chopped tomatoes*
8 jalapeno peppers*
6 cups chopped onion*
1-1/3 cup white vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp salt
1-1/2 Tbsp garlic salt
2 12-ozs cans tomato paste (those are the big cans)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or more, to taste

Mix and simmer 1-1/2 to 2 hours till it breaks down and blends.

Then ladle into hot jars and cook in the hot water bath 10 minutes. This recipe makes about 9 pints! Almost enough to have one to give away...

Hmm...last year's pic, and I only count 7 pints. Maybe we drank two on the spot.

Trust me--when all this sunshine and warm weather goes away, taking with it the last of the real tomatoes and all the fresh pico de gallo I've been making, homemade salsa will be the next best thing. So come out this Thursday or Saturday and load up! Yes, you can can!