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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tomatoes Continued - Days 4 & 5

It has been a very busy week of processing tomatoes. At this point I have now processed 5 1/2 hampers of tomatoes. I'm tired and very achy so by the time you are reading this I'm already well into enjoying a much appreciated weekend away.
Tomato Harvest

Ladies and gentleman as promised here are pictures of the tomato harvest.  Tomato wagons are connected to tractors then a tomato harvester follows along side the wagons.  Pickers stand in the harvester to remove green tomatoes.  As the tomatoes are harvested they travel up conveyor belts to be deposited into the wagons.  When full the tomato wagons are hooked to transport trucks or tractors depending on the distance needed to travel to the processing plant. 
Testing pH

When home canning pH is very important.  In general if the pH is above 4.6 then the food is considered low acid so it must be processed using a boiling water bath canner.  If you only use tested USDA approved recipes (which all new canners should use) then all you have to do is simply follow those guidelines.  However, I wanted to can my own sauces using recipes it has taken me years to perfect so that means testing pH.  The simplest method is to use pH paper but if the sauce is strongly coloured it will throw off the reading.  Another problem with pH paper is there is a level of guestimation by simply trying to match the colour to the indicator.  For example I tested 5% acetic acid white vinegar with pH paper that read at pH 2.5 however using a pH meter the pH was 2.1.  In terms of pH this is a big difference.  So while pH paper is a useful indicator a pH meter is better for more accurate readings.  Tomatoes and tomato products for the most part can be processed using a boiling water bath or pressure canner but in both cases the current recommendation is to acidify by adding either citric acid or lemon juice.  Virtually everything I can that is tomato based is tested for pH mainly for my own records.
Spaghetti Meat Sauce

Pictured is 14 - 500 ml jars of my famous spaghetti meat sauce.  This is a slow cook sauce that takes a fair amount of preparation and about 4 hours cook time before being ready for canning or freezing.  I use one particular variety of plum tomatoes.   The tomatoes are peeled then quartered.  Other ingredients including fresh ground, lean ground beef, fresh herbs and fresh mushrooms combine to make a mouth watering hearty sauce.  This sauce originally was made from scratch for dinner with left-over sauce being froze.  About 6 years ago I decided to try canning some as a convenience product.  The results were wonderful!  While making this sauce fresh is still the primary way I make it having  several jars on hand is a real time saver!

Marinara Sauce

Pictured are 5 L of marinara sauce and you would have seen the other 6 - 500 ml jars but they were in the canner and I needed the photo since we were leaving for the weekend.  This sauce is an improtu since it was not on my original list of tomato products to can but that list really changes anyways as I do the canning.

Marinara sauce is named after the mariners who made this simple yet tasty sauce.  It consists of tomatoes, olive oil, onions, garlic and fresh basil.  That's it.  Yet this sauce is tasty by itself as a pasta topping or can be used for a blush sauce.  It is a bit thinner than some pasta sauces.  

The simplicity of this sauce is one of its beauties.  You must use all fresh ingredients with the basil being picked within minutes of going into the sauce.  For canning purposes, a greatly reduced amount of olive oil is used added for the flavour since pressure canning increases the antioxidant properties of lycopene much the same as olive oil does.  

4 food lovers commented:

EastCoastLife said...

Making your own tomato sauce is so tedious but they taste better. I would love to try your tomato sauces. *drools*

Beamer said...

I just came across your blog. I find it most amazing.


Garden Gnome said...

ECL, making tomato sauce is really not all that tedious. In fact it is quite easy and so much tastier than store bought!

Garden Gnome said...

Thanks Beamer, I'm glad you are enjoying my blog :) Please stop by again.