Search Lobsterland

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cannery Row

So we have had a tsunami of tomatoes this year, as James Worley would put it.

That's led me to finding things to do with more tomatoes than I can eat or give away. This was, just so you know, the goal when I ordered 36 tomato plants last February. I'm not sure it was too many, maybe too many for a summer that includes bypass surgery. But even that timed out relatively well, I had most of the tying and pruning attended to before I went under the knife and things weren't too out of control when I got back to at least picking tomatoes. With a little help from a few friends anyway. I am recalculating for next year's garden, making mental notes about tomato varieties I have to grow no matter what, and adjusting for the fact that I need to at least double, maybe triple, my sweet pepper production and that might come at the cost of a few maters.

So I made my famous Indian (red dot, not feather) Chutney, also some marinara style pasta sauce, and a lot of salsa. Normal times, each one of these would have gotten its own blog post complete with recipe and digressions about the recipe but I've kind of been too busy for that.

I should probably explain the borderline pornographic pasta sauce label: I made these in a hurry, no time for ingredient lists and whatnot. The train of thought that led to this was the fetish some people have elevated 'organic' gardening to (there is no other kind, as far as I know, you can spray what you want and it's all carbon based life, ergo 'organic'). If you're going to have a fetish, why not make it orgasmic gardening, right?

What these sauces all had in common, aside from lots of tomatoes from the garden, was our 18 quart roaster, which works as a slow cooker (you can set it down below 200ºF, though for this more like 250ºF is about right). Leave the lid off and you can evaporate quite a bit of water from pureed and diced tomatoes, getting concentration of flavor and caramelization of sugars without making your whole kitchen a Jackson Pollock study in tomato stains.

The marinara was the biggest hit, and that two gallon batch looked like a lot until we went to can what we hadn't eaten and wound up with only three quarts to put away. If, as I suspect, the tomatoes that haven't succumbed to disease are about to put on a final push of production, I might have to make more of that one. We have the most of the salsa, both because it happened to be the biggest batch, and because we blended part of it with corn and black beans. Even straight, the salsa is not as hot as I feared when I put a Trinidad Scorpion and a couple of Peter Peppers in the mix on top of quite a few jalapeños and Hungarian Yellow Was peppers. With the corn and black bean addition, it's downright mild.

No comments: