Tomatoes: Stage 52 and Beyond

Sink Full of Tomatoes

For the past few weeks, I have been very busy. The new semester started at the school I teach for, I have been working on my dissertation, I planted my Fall plants, and my tomatoes came into their harvest period! That means that my weekends have been filled with lesson-planning and tomato processing. I thought I would share some of this year’s wonderful tomato adventures with you.

Once or twice per week, I pick a double sink full of beautiful tomatoes. The first few weeks are always devoted to making my delicious Italian pasta sauce. My goal is to always can a minimum of 52 quarts, so my family can have enough to eat pasta dishes, once per week all year. So far, this year, I have 68 quarts finished and may make more to give as gifts and share wth family.

Once the pasta sauce reaches “Stage 52,” as I call it, I start canning other products that my family uses throughout the year. I usually make some soup and salsas, as well as a few other things; however, this year, I planted a couple of hybrid tomato types which are touted as offering much larger Roma-style tomatoes than the standard Roma. That equates to much more tomato pulp available to use.

Supersauce versus Roma

The tomatoes in the photo, from left to right, are Super Sauce, Roma, Super Sauce, and Big Mama. The Big Mama tomatoes turned out to be 2-3 times the size of the Romas, but this year due to a very rainy early season, they suffered from blossom end rot which ruined approximately half of the crop. The Super Sauce tomatoes, however, thrived, this year. As you can see, the typical Super Sauce can be 10-20 times the size of a typical Roma. I even had one weigh in at 3.5 pounds! I think that would be heavy weight class.

What does that mean for me? It means less work: fewer tomatoes to blanch and peel, fewer tomatoes to remove seeds and liquid from, and more meat available to work with per fruit. In addition, they taste really good.

I grew all of my Super Sauce tomato plants from seed. The tomatoes came ripened only two weeks after the 8-inch tall tomato plants that I bought at the store and planted. The seed-started plants were also stronger, more vigorous, and highly productive. It turns out that in the same amount of space, I was able to get much more usable tomato from Super Sauce than the other Roma-style plants that I planted. I will definitely be planting Super Sauce, again!

So what have I done with all of that tomato? So far I have 68 quarts of pasta sauce, 13 pints of stewed tomatoes, 10 pints of stewed tomatoes with green chilis, 15 pint and a half jars of honey barbeque sauce, 18 jars of 4-alarm super hot salsa, 15 jars of mild salsa, 8 jars of medium salsa, a dozen jars of tomato-basil soup, and two quarts of tomato soup base (for vegetable-beef soup). This weekend, I am making and canning hot sauces, chili, and dried Italian tomato slices.

I predict 3-4 more weeks of sauce-style tomato canning, since all of my plants have started producing another abundance of fruit. Did I say that none of this has anything to do with my table tomatoes? Yes, it is true: We get to eat sliced, diced, or wedged fresh tomatoes, every day, as well. Well, that’s anbother story!

mmmmm mmmmm mmmmm It’s all so yummy: Tomato goodness, all year long.

 

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