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Filtering by Tag: San Marzano tomatoes

Canning Tomatoes: the entire process


The detailed recipe for canning tomatoes will appear in my upcoming book, My Calabria, but I think you will get a good idea of what is involved by just looking at all the photos below.

We picked over 100 pounds of tomatoes in the first harvest and ended up canning 32 jars, not counting the tomatoes I brought to my cooking class. It takes on average 2.5 to 3 pounds of tomatoes to fill a quart jar. The canning took only three hours, with my husband, my son, and my mother all helping out.

Cleanliness is extremely important when canning. The first step is to clean the tomatoes well and make sure your jars are also clean.

We put the tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds:

and quickly chill them in ice water:

Once they are cooled the skin is peeled:

Each tomato is then cut in half:

The seeds and core are removed:

The tomatoes are then placed in colanders to drain until we have enough tomatoes ready to be packed in jars. Here my mom is packing them:

Then she is pushing them tightly with a wooden spoon to remove all the air and gaps:

Once packed and sealed the jars go in a water bath, where they are boiled for one hour.

Here is the finished product to be put away for the winter months, so that throughout the year we can enjoy the taste of fresh tomatoes. There is nothing like it!

Since last week, I have picked even more tomatoes in a second harvest and will be canning about 25 more jars tomorrow.

The first tomato harvest of the season


I am so happy with the tomato harvest that I want to share some of the photos of it. I will be using the tomatoes this Friday for my cooking class, "A Tomato Dinner from My Garden" and my students will have a chance to taste every variety that I grow. The rest of the tomatoes my mother and I will can on Saturday. Here is a shot of my favorite tomato this year: "the little horned one", there on the vine in the lower left corner, ripe and ready to be picked.

The plant is of the "cuore di bue" or "ox heart" variety that my dad planted along with the San Marzanos and it produced more tomatoes that I thought it would.  I didn't want to pick it, because it was so cute, but it finally ended up in the box along with its mates.

Here is my mom picking the San Marzanos. Look how many tomatoes each cluster produces.

I made lots of trips from the garden to the house yesterday;  I think I probably picked about 100 pounds of tomatoes!

My mom likes to keep them on a flat surface, not in a box, until we are ready to can them. We usually  keep the tomatoes in my basement for four or five days. The temperature is cool there and this will maximize their sugar content and turn them a deep red.

Take a look at the table covered with them all and then, if you really want to be impressed, check my previous post to see the size of my garden.

Can you believe how many tomatoes you can grow in a small area?  The next harvests will be somewhat smaller, but I will end up canning more than 80 jars for the season and still have plenty to eat every day, as well as enough to bring to my cooking classes.

I have been picking cherry tomatoes for weeks on a daily basis, and from only two plants, but I still pick more than I'm able to eat raw everyday...

... so I roast the ones I can't keep up with, and then add them to dishes during the days following.  You can keep roasted tomatoes in the refrigerator for up to a week. They are very easy to prepare. Just place them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast them at 300 degrees for a couple of hours until they are wrinkled and look like this:

The roasting concentrates their flavors by caramelizing the natural sugars that they taste like candy.  They are good to place on top of a bruschetta with ricotta, or toss with olive oil, garlic and lots of fresh basil in some pasta.  They are also tasty on top of pizza, along with other roasted vegetables.

I will continue this post next week with picture of my canning day.

My vegetable garden at the end of August


In the month of August I've been able to enjoy eating romano beans, cucumbers, zucchini and eggplants, all from my own garden. Even my apple trees and my two grapevines are loaded with fruit.  But because August was unusually cool here in the Bay area, some of the vegetables, like the tomatoes, didn't start ripening until the end of the month, which you can see in the photo below. They're growing on two trellis rows, and are so high that we can no longer tie them down--they are now taller than we are.

The majority of the tomatoes are the San Marzano variety. We brought the seeds from Calabria with us in the 70s when we moved to the Bay Area and my parents have always kept the seeds from year to year, so you are looking at real heirloom tomatoes! I will write a post soon on how to harvest the seeds so that you don't need to buy them every year.

There are three other tomato varieties I planted along with the San Marzano: an early girl variety, a cuore di bue, or "ox heart", and sweet 100s, which are cherry tomatoes.

The early girls:

Cuore di bue tomatoes, this one with a cute little horn:

Cherry tomatoes:

My pepper plants are also abundant. We have two varieties:  sweet Italian peppers that we eat fresh as they mature in the next few months, and the peppers of Senise that we dry and make into peperoni cruschi, or grind intosweet pepper powder.

Sweet Italian peppers:

Peperoni di Senise:

Peperoncini (hot Calabrian peppers)

When I tell my students that I buy no vegetables during the summer, I can about 80 quarts of tomatoes, and I still have enough produce to use in the cooking classes they attend, they think that I have acres of land.  But the length of my back yard is only 50 feet, and the garden is six feet wide. There are also three other sections 20 feet long and three feet wide.  We extend the garden a bit by using large pots on the patio, which hold basil, hot peppers, strawberries and even an extra cherry tomato plant that I had no other place to put.

So how does it produce so much? It's the care and work that my dad puts into it that makes it so abundant.

Here are two pictures that give you a view of my garden, the left side and right side where you can see the pots on the patio. We have another section on the side of the house with a lettuce bed, my zucchini plants, my citrus trees, and a nespolo (loquat) tree.

Here is the left side of my garden:

Here is the right side:

Not bad for an urban metropolis like Oakland!