This summer, I developed something called Oral Allergy Syndrome. This is some kind of freaky uber-allergy, where I am apparently unable to eat anything but cabbage. All other foods make my tongue sizzle and some foods -- the really yummy ones -- make my throat and ears close up.
I've been living in a Benadryl haze, and worrying about scurvy. (Okay I'm -- mostly -- kidding about the scurvy.)
The summer's tomato harvest was coming to a close, and I decided that even if I couldn't eat tomatoes at the moment, I would preserve the tomatoes for another time. Hopefully, this allergy nonsense is a passing phase, and I'll be able to eat like a normal person again.
I made two recipes: fresh packed tomatoes, and a tomato sauce.
Here's what I did for the fresh tomatoes. I plunged the tomatoes into boiling water for just an instant.
And then I dropped them into ice water. The recipes say to put the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, but I think that's too long. It turns the tomato flesh to mush.
I peeled and cored the tomatoes, and pressed them into sterilized jars. (Why do they call this "canning" anyway? We're using jars, for goodness sake!) I smooshed them down as much as I could, and added a half a teaspoon of salt and two tablespoons of lemon juice from our backyard lemons.
The I set the closed-up jars in a bath of boiling water for an hour and forty minutes. When I took the jars out, the tomatoes had expressed a significant amount of liquid, and were floating at the top of a watery broth. I was not prepared for how this looked, and spent a few frantic moments checking photos on the internet. I wish the recipes would mention the final appearance to calm nervous beginners like myself!
The sauce was even simpler. I washed and cored the tomatoes, and cut them in eighths. Then I stuck them in a big stockpot and let them cook down.
When they were nice and mooshy, I ladled everything into the chinoise that I had bought for ten bucks at the Oakland Museum's White Elephant Sale. Love those antiquated kitchen tools!
This tool is fantastic in its simplicity and efficiency. Roll the pestle around the inside of the sieve, and all the juices are expressed through the holes. All the skins and seeds stay behind.
After I strained the tomatoes, I returned them to the stockpot, and let them cook down until they had reduced to half their original volume. Then I ladled them into sterilized jars added lemon juice and set them in boiling water for forty minutes.
This was what our kitchen looked like this morning.
Nicely sealed up tomatoes. And fresh bread and an omelet that Robb had made.
It's satisfying to make things for ourselves. Now, I just hope that the time will come when I'm able to eat those tomatoes.