How To Have A Tomato Extravaganza — Canned, Jammed, Sauced & Toasty (RECIPE)

September 22, 2010 § 23 Comments

1 — Get up early. Have a big mug of coffee.

2 — Enlist a friend or loved one to accompany you (you’ll see why in a sec) to your local farmers’ market. Present your morning’s mission to your companion: to find the best darned tomato in the market. Sample all of the tomatoes; compare notes. Go to the farm stand that had the unilaterally best tomatoes and ask how much they’ll charge you for a 20-30 pound box (SFoodie reported prices at $1.60-$2 per pound for a box. I got a 30-pound box for 30 cents per pound at Alemany Farmers’ Market from the stand right near the Putnam Street entrance; they weren’t certified organic, but I asked, and the farm doesn’t spray and uses sustainable farming practices).

3 — Ask your companion very nicely to help you lug the box back to the car and into your abode.

30 pounds of tomatoes!

4 — Put on clothes you don’t mind getting tomato-ey, and an apron.

5 — In your kitchen:

  • Clear and clean counter space.
  • Set up your biggest cutting board on the counter. Fold paper towels length-wise and nestle them around your cutting board to catch the tomato juices that will run away once you start cutting up tomatoes.
  • Sharpen your favorite knife.
  • Set up the other kitchen utensils you’ll need, depending on what you’re making (see recipes below).
  • Turn on some lively music — whatever pumps you up.
  • Pour yourself a glass of wine or pop open a beer (by now, it might be noon — at least, it is somewhere).

6 — Let the extravaganza begin!

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RECIPES

I’ve ordered these roughly along the lines of how tasty they are relative to input of time and effort:

(1) OVEN-ROASTED TOMATOES – Easy-peasy, super flavorful, very versatile and freezable

(2) TOMATO JAM – The sweet-savory punch is, in my mind, completely worth it; while it takes some time to prepare (and more if you plan to can it), the recipe is relatively simple

(3) TOMATO SAUCE – Time-intensive but not technically difficult, and fresh tomato sauce, especially in the winter, is a treat

(4) CANNED TOMATOES – Time-intensive and takes some technique (more on my simultaneous interest in / fear of canning in a later post), but then again…tomatoes in January? Awesome

Specific recipes are below, including the volume of tomatoes I used and yields I got and serving notes.

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(1) OVEN-ROASTED TOMATOES

Volume: 3 pounds of small-ish tomatoes –> 56 tomato halves

Total Time: 4-6 hours + 15 minutes. Prep: 15 minutes. Cooking Time: 4-6 hours

Planning Notes: The prep is minimal, and you can roast these while you’re watching TV. Or, if you want, you can prep the tomatoes and stick them in the oven before you go to bed. Just remember to set your alarm to get up and take them out of the oven so you don’t end up with tomato hockey pucks.

Thank you to Chiot’s Run for the inspiration for this recipe (click here for hers).

Ingredients

However many tomatoes you want to roast

Olive oil

Chopped herbs, if you like (I used basil, but oregano would be tasty too)

Cooking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Wash the tomatoes and drain in a colander.

Washed and ready to go

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slice smaller tomatoes in half, larger ones into quarters. Arrange them on top of the parchment paper on the baking sheet, leaving ¼ inch or so between the tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle chopped herbs on top of tomatoes if using. Put in oven (middle rack).

Tomatoes should shrink considerably (see pictures below); be curled up around the edges and about as firm to the touch in the middle as the meaty part of your palm (under your thumb) while still slightly moist; and taste like sweet-tangy, concentrated tomato.

Before

After

Check in four hours. If the tomatoes meet the description above, take them out and let them cool on the pan. If they don’t, roast them for another one to two hours.

Once cool, you can pack into freezer bags; squeeze out the air before sealing. Or, you can put in an air-tight container and store in the fridge for a few days.

Serving Notes

Great in salads, with eggs (chopped in omelets or egg scrambles; in an egg sandwich), on pizza, tossed into pasta or plain.

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(2) TOMATO JAM

Volume: 3 pounds of tomatoes –> 24 ounces

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes; approx.  1 hour 45 minutes if canning. Prep: 15 minutes. Cooking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes + 10 minutes processing time if canning

Planning Notes: If you’re canning the jam, make sure your jars, lids and rings are washed. Then, start bringing water to simmer in your boiling-water canner and put the jars in a 225 degree oven to sterilize them before you prep the jam ingredients.

I basically used Mark Bittman’s recipe (click here)

Notes On The Recipe

I doubled the recipe as I was canning it, so I used 1 large jalapeno and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne as I wanted a mellow heat to offset the sweetness, vs. a spicy jam. If you’re making the recipe as is, you could just use the jalapeno or do half of a jalapeno and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne.

Simmering the jam 1 hour 15 minutes as Bittman instructs did not yield a thick jam consistency for me, so I brought the jam to boil to the “gelling point”. There are three ways to test for the gelling point, but in my opinion the easiest way is the plate test: put 2 small plates in the freezer before you start cooking the jam. Bring the jam to boil; when it starts getting to a thick jam consistency, place a spoonful on the plate, put it back in the freezer for 1-2 minutes, take it out and run your finger through the jam. If the jam separates and slowly returns to its original form (vs. running right back together), it’s ready. If it runs right back, cook it 1-2 minutes longer and repeat the test with the clean plate.

Serving Notes

Here’s my favorite: Slather this on a warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven biscuit (click here for my favorite cream biscuit recipe), and accompany it with a finger of smoky-sweet bourbon.

A fresh biscuit & tomato jam -- supreme comfort food

Also great on toast, eggs, fish and chicken.

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(3) TOMATO SAUCE

Volume: 6 pounds 7 ounces of tomatoes –> 2 ½ pints (about 3 pounds tomatoes per pint, or 6.5 pounds tomatoes per quart)

Total Time: Approx. 2 hours; 2 hours 40 minutes if canning. Prep: 20 minutes. Cooking Time: 1 hour 40 minutes + 35-40 minutes processing time if canning

Planning Notes: If you’re canning the sauce, make sure your jars, lids and rings are washed. Then, start bringing water to simmer in your boiling-water canner and put the jars in a 225 degree oven to sterilize them before you prep the sauce.

Adapted from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving

Ingredients

However many tomatoes you want to use for sauce

Bottled lemon juice if canning the sauce (the lemon juice acidifies the sauce so it doesn’t go bad; using bottled lemon juice is key because the acid level is consistent, whereas fresh lemons vary in acidity)

Seasonings, if you like: chopped herbs, salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper (I made mine without since I use tomato sauce in a variety of recipes that may not go well with certain seasonings)

Cooking Instructions

Wash the tomatoes and drain in a colander. Slice in half, cut out the stem/core. Cut into quarters.

Ready for some simmering

Simmer 20 minutes in a large saucepot, stirring occasionally.

Puree tomatoes in a blender or food mill. Strain puree through a sieve to remove seeds and skins into a clean, large saucepot.

Cook juice over medium-high heat until it thickens and reduces by about half, or to desired consistency. This will take, depending on the volume of tomatoes you use, about 45 minutes.

If freezing, pour into sterilized jars or air-tight plastic containers and let cool before placing in freezer.

If canning, put lids in a saucepan of water and bring to a simmer (but don’t boil or a seal won’t form). When the sauce is ready, put 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice into each pint jar or 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice into each quart jar. Ladle hot sauce into a jar, doing one jar at a time, leaving ½-inch headspace. Wipe jar rim clean with a damp, clean paper towel or cloth; put lid on jar; screw on ring until finger-tight and place in boiling-water canner. Repeat process with remaining jars. Bring boiling-water bath to roiling boil, and from that point, process 35 minutes for pints, 40 minutes for quarts.

Serving Notes

Great for use in chili, stews, pasta and pizza.

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(4) CANNED TOMATOES

Cannot wait to have these this fall/winter!

Volume: 15 pounds of tomatoes –> 13 ½ pints (about 1 – 1 ½ pounds of tomatoes per pint)

Total Time: Approx. 4 hours for 15 pounds. A lot longer with more tomatoes

Planning Notes: This is at least a half-day affair, all day if you’re doing a lot more tomatoes than 15 pounds. Just plan on being up to your arms (literally) in tomatoes, and don’t plan on much else that day!

Up to my elbows in tomatoes

I referenced The Bitten Word’s handy photo narrative and video (click here) and the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving

Notes On The Recipe

According to The Joy Of Cooking, if you’re doing a huge load of tomatoes, instead of blanching them a few at a time in boiling water and then putting them in an ice bath, you can place tomatoes in a single layer in a large roasting pan, cover with boiling water, let cool and then slip off the skins. I didn’t try it, but it sounds a lot easier than the blanching / ice bath / peeling assembly line I did!

Serving Notes

Great for use in tomato soup, chili and stews all winter.

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Did you find this post helpful? Would you make any of these recipes? If so, please vote above or comment below!

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§ 23 Responses to How To Have A Tomato Extravaganza — Canned, Jammed, Sauced & Toasty (RECIPE)

  • [...] they were at their flavor peak in September (see more about my 30-pounds-of-tomatoes extravaganza here), and that I could snip shallot greens from our new garden to garnish the stir-fry instead of [...]

  • phew I thought I had my work cut out dealing with 12lbs of green tomatoes! I spent almost the entire weekend bubbling up chutney and roasting tomatoes. I marvel at your endurance (especially with all the washing up I know all that cooking would have created!) What a great result though.

  • omgyummy says:

    Hi Stephanie – thanks for stopping by my blog again. I love this post! I have a short tomato post on my list of to-do’s and will not overlap any of your recipes! I, by the way, LOVE roasting tomatoes. Last night I roasted some grape tomatoes to eat with the leftover roasted veggies with a frittata. The idea comes from a ‘wichcraft Tom Colicchio sandwich recipe where you put the roasted tomatoes on the frittata with cheddar cheese on a nice crusty roll. So yummy. Also love roasted carrots and somewhere in my recipe file I have a great recipe for roasted carrot soup. Another easy recipe with high yum factor. I’ll be in San Francisco for BlogHerFood next Friday and Saturday. Are you going by any chance?

    • Hi there! Thanks for stopping by and for your feedback; I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. I enjoyed getting up to my elbows in 30 lbs of tomatoes! What a great idea to put the roasted tomatoes into a frittata sandwich; I love frittatas so will have to try that. I’d love to see your roasted carrot soup recipe as well. Have fun at BlogHerFood; sorry to miss you as I’ll be in Italy.

  • mai truong says:

    Stephanie, thanks for sharing the recipes! I looovvee oven roasted tomatoes, they are so wonderful. Tossed with some cheese and pan-fried gnocchi they are some of my favorites. Incredible that you canned the tomatoes for the winter, I’m very inspired.

  • [...] How to eat: My two favorite ways to eat heirlooms are: (1) caprese salad — slice the tomatoes thickly, top with a thick slice of fresh mozzarella and a basil leaf, then sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with olive oil; (2) tomato salad — chop tomatoes into big chunks and toss with small mozzarella balls and just a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Also, if you feel inspired to buy a 20-30 pound box of tomatoes, you can always use one of the “tomato extravaganza” recipes here [...]

  • teeandzee says:

    Mmm! Those all look great! I don’t think I’ve ever had tomato jam, but it sounds wonderful. It is really inspiring to see how much can be done in an urban homestead, even without access to acres of land. Lovely blog – I look forward to reading more.

    • Teeandzee, Thanks for stopping by! It’s true that you can plant a lot of food in a small space if you plan appropriately. It’s been fun experimenting with that the past few months, and I’m excited to see what more we can do.

  • Katie Hart says:

    Stephanie,
    My grandmother loved to can and put up all sorts of sweet and savory jams, jellies, marmalades and chutneys with the local produce grown around the Monterey peninsula. I have just pulled out all her recipe binders (including an old family cookbook from my great grandmother with menu plans for parties ‘for the ladies’, ‘for gardeners and epicures’, and ‘visiting officials’) including a bunch of the recipes she had clipped for canned goods. Like Jim, she was more of a cook by feeling and instinct than by the book, but she clipped tons of recipes for inspiration. Anyhoo…

    If tomato marmalade, rhubarb ginger jam , or fig apple chutney sound intriguing….i am happy to share!

    • Katie, Thank you for sharing these beautiful memories and for your offer to share your grandmother’s recipes — I would absolutely LOVE to see them! I’m curious to see how your grandmother made tomato marmalade and how it compares to Bittman’s Spanish recipe, and the fig apple chutney in particular sounds delish. Looking forward to seeing, and trying, them.

  • Sally White says:

    Stephanie, Years ago I canned tomato juice and ketchup (and both were good) as well as the basic stewed tomatoes. I am afraid I have lost or at best misplaced the recipes. In my Iowa home we had a kitchen in the basement that was where we canned, due to the heat (summer time in Iowa and from the boiling). It was lots of work but a friend and I did it together and the team approach was much more fun. In our lack of knowledge we had planted 50 tomato plants! I skinned and cored many and froze them whole toward the end of the crop. I must say even though there was some flavor loss the frozen tomatoes were good in soups, sauces, and chili. Stephanie your recipes look great and the tomato jam is something I am going to make! You knock my socks off! Sally

    • Sally, Thanks for your loyal readership, support & great comments. I LOVE your stories and recipes from your life and family. I think it would be great to document all of the recipes and personalities you know — what a fun cookbook that would make!

  • Hi Stephanie-
    Thanks for the visit, your tomatoes look super! The tomato jam recipe looks really good, something to try if we make a go at canning tomatoes again this season. After about 70 lbs of tomatoes, we’re getting pretty tired of canning toms. But, your jam recipe makes we want to rethink that!

    As for safety, last year we canned a bunch of stuff using a 1950′s WWII Victory Garden canning book that certainly would not be considered up to current safety standards. Looking back, it was rather sketchy, but we didn’t die, even with our canned corn. We’ve updated bit, but would be considered lax to some. Tasty to me!

    Best of luck with any future canning events!

    • Hello lovely locavore ladies (love the name, by the way!). Thanks so much for the visit; hope you’ll be back! I’m enjoying your blog as well. I’d definitely recommend the tomato jam, but I can see how after 70 lbs, you’d be ready to move on to roasting cauliflower. Thanks for sharing your experience on canning — that makes me feel better. All the jars have seals, and so far, nothing funky appears to be happening inside.

  • Paul says:

    mmm. tomato jam sounds delicious.

  • Archana Mehta says:

    Eeek! Just the term “canning” freaks me out. I’m afraid of contracting some awful bacteria because I didn’t boil something quite long enough!! The idea of canning – and enjoying various vegetables in the winter – is very appealing. But my fears prevent me from trying it out! I would love to hear your thoughts on canning and canning safety. Perhaps I can overcome my fear…

    • Archana, Thanks for visiting and commenting! Believe me, canning freaked me out a lot until the day I just decided to go for it. As I mentioned in reply to Susy at Chiot’s Run below, we won’t be able to test for canning safety for a few months (although I did can apple butter over 3 weeks ago and opened some recently, and it was great). I’ll definitely write more about canning soon (must share the apple butter recipe — from a local woman-run jam company — as it is divine).

  • Chiot's Run says:

    Looks Fantastic! You’ll be enjoying all of these come winter. I’m making my last batch of tomato soup today, then the tomatoes are pretty much finished.

    The tomato jam sounds delish, I must try this recip.

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