The Human Food Processor, Part 1
Over the last 24 hours I have worked my way through pounds of produce to preserve it. I think this was only just the beginning of the upswing of our harvest this month, but already we needed to get a handle of saving our veggies before they went bad. Here's what I started with last night:
Everything except the bananas was picked from the garden over the weekend, but it couldn't be eaten right away. So I had one eye on the Olympics and the other on the kitchen. First I got a bunch of Roma tomatoes ready for drying:
These are super-easy to make. Cut off the top of the tomato, then slice it the long way down the center. Dig out the seeds with your fingers, leaving as much meat as possible. Lay them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt. Put them in the oven at the lowest possible temperature for as long as it takes — until they look and feel dried, but not too crispy. How long it takes depends on how big the tomatoes were to start with. These took between 10 hours (for the smallest) and 18 hours (for the thickest ones). I checked on them every couple hours and removed the ones that were finished so they wouldn't get over-dried or burnt.
They were in the oven over night. Now that they are done, I will probably keep them in a ziplock bag until we make enough to jar in olive oil. Right now I only have a few, but we’ll keep making more as we continue to harvest tomatoes.
I also made a batch of bread and butter pickles. For these we used onions that are kind of small to bother with curing and storing, and we also used the weird, globular pickling cukes because we sliced them into rounds. Once you slice up four pounds of cukes and two pounds of onions, you add a half cup of salt and cover the mixture in ice for and hour and a half.
While that sits, the pickling liquid is vinegar, turmeric, peppercorns, mustard seed, and celery seed. As usual, we use the Ball Blue Book recipes for canning; this recipe is online here. We use grape leaves in the jars instead of "Pickle Crisp granules," whatever those are.
After packing the jars and processing for 10 minutes in the boiling water canner, we had seven pints of these yummy, sweetish pickles:
At that point it was 1 a.m. and I went to bed. Pickling and canning isn't hard, but it takes a looooong time to boil all that water in the canner, and these took forever because they had to sit for an hour. It leads to late nights, because in the summer (when you need to can stuff), it's too hot to be boiling water for hours on end during the daytime. We're having a perfect week for these projects, though — it’s getting down into the 50s in the evening for the next few days.