Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hot Fun In The Summertime

 I don't think I've done an update on the garden in a while so I thought I'd show ya'll how that is going and include a new recipe I found that came out very well I thought.  The garden is really producing well this year, especially the tomatoes.  I guess the cooler weather this summer has not hurt them after all.  In fact, it may be helping some, I'm not sure.  Anyway, I got scads of them, even with the Romas kinda being a bust, what with them coming out so small.  Now, I did pick up a box of local tomatoes from a farmer at the market the other day.  My Rutgers were just not coming in fast enough to can in any decent batch so I thought I'd help them along.  Plus, they were local and the guy offered the box full for $5.  It was about 15 pounds of tomatoes, or more so that was hard to pass up.  I combined them with a good many of mine and got a sizable batch of marinara sauce to can, for now.  I still want to put up plain tomatoes for soups and a good bit of salsa and hopefully, now that my tomatoes are coming in at a faster clip, I may can do it with all my own stock.
We are getting a fairly good corn harvest but not near what I got a couple of years ago.  I've always been under the impression that corn was pollinated by the wind, rather than bees, but I am beginning to wonder if it's not still helped by the bees.  See, the last couple of really good corn crops I got were 3-4 years ago and I remember distinctly the bees were just swarming the corn those years.  This year and last year the corn was mediocre and I have seen very few bees on it.  So??  I know it is very going to be some bad s#*!t if the bees keep dying.  I notice fewer and fewer honeybees at my place each year.  Fortunately, I have lots of mason, bumble, leafcutter and such bees and other tiny pollinators, so we still get pretty good crops, but the honey bees do so much for large scale crops.  And people just keep right on spraying their *$%@#%!! Roundup and whatever, which they are pretty sure is what's killing the bees, combined with other fungicides and herbicides.  Maybe when their kids and grandkids are starving to death in another 8-10 years they may start to care.  Or not.
The peppers, raspberries, onions, beans and pretty much everything else is doing well too.  Even getting some nice sweet cantaloupes this year!  Yum!  Not sure if my watermelons are going to have time to ripen but we'll see.

 So, here is the marinara sauce recipe.  You can double, triple or whatever to get enough to can if you want, or just make a batch to eat now!

Basic Marinara Sauce:
 4-5 lbs fresh, ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded (about 12 cups).  I also run mine through a food processor just a little because I like a smooth sauce.  But do whatever you like.
2 yellow onions, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced  (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons dried herbs (basil, oregano, thyme etc.) mixed, total
1/2 cup red wine

In a large soup pot, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil.  Add onions and cook slowly on medium heat until they start to carmelize.  They should be evenly brown and soft.  Add the garlic and herbs and cook for 5 minutes.  (Dried herbs hold their flavor much longer than fresh so if you want to use fresh add the herbs right at the end of cooking the sauce.)
Deglaze the pan with the 1/2 cup of wine and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add the tomatoes with juice and stir well to combine.  Bring to a simmer and cook on low for t least 2 hours or longer depending on water content.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
This recipe yields about 2.5 quarts.

 Okay, now here is what I did.  I tripled this recipe basically, maybe a tad more, and I added probably 1 tablespoon of sugar to the whole batch to cut down on the acid.  I also did not have any red wine at the time so I skipped that step.  It came out fine.  For such a large batch I let it simmer for probably 5-6 hours and came out with 6 quarts.  Just keep tasting it about every hour until it gets to the concentration and flavor you want.  I thought it was very yummy.  Oh, I also used a little parsley instead of thyme but use whatever herbs you like best.
When I felt it was ready I poured it up into hot, sterilized quart jars, capped and ran through a hot water bath for 30 minutes to seal.  I can't wait to try it this winter!  Well, I can wait plenty for winter to get here but you know what I mean! lol!
EDIT!!!!!!  It is apparently, no longer safe to water bath can any tomato based product or tomatoes themselves as they are no longer the way they used to be.  (Along with most everything else in this world)  It is advised to only pressure can tomatoes from now on.  Look it up.  Do what you want but don't blame me.

Since I had everything going that day I also canned 6 quarts of peaches and 5 half pints of peach jam.  We are getting yet more rain today but tomorrow is supposed to be clear and I hope to put up a good bit of salsa and pickles.  If ya'll are interested I'll give you my recipes for that.


Floridacracker said...

Hey Annie!
Wow, you can't go wrong with that mix of herbs and tomatoes. I bet the house smelled great while you were canning all that good stuff.
Making gumbo here today.

Ed said...

Corn is pollinated by wind but it really needs a rain during pollination to help it along. If it is dry and arid during pollination, yields are reduced.

I've always just canned tomato sauce and turned it into marinara sauce at time of want. But reading this made me realize it is probably way better to make a large batch once or twice than all those separate times throughout the year. I'm going to do that in the future!

edifice rex said...

Hey FC! Yeah, it did! Smelled good into the next day even!

Hey Ed! well, Lordy, I can't imagine we didn't have enough rain for it; maybe we had too much?
I usually just can the tomatoes too and then made into whatever but I saw this recipe and thought it would save me some time later on.

Anonymous said...

That looks really good! But... you are not going to want to hear this! At the class we took on food preservation at the Extension office, they are now saying it's not really safe to do tomatoes in a water bath any more. It's due to the tomatoes not being as acid as they used to be. (The high acid level was what used to let you water-bath can them instead of pressure can them.) Anyway they said what you can get is botulism - it grows really well in low-acid anaerobic conditions. They kept stressing how you couldn't smell or taste it either... and apparently it's a lot more dangerous than just food poisoning. I have not done any further research on it, but I wanted to let you know what they told us in class! -Karen

edifice rex said...

Hey Karen! Well, that sux monkey balls. I started to go to that class but then forgot about it. Well, Jack just bought me a pretty new pressure canner so I guess I'll redo everything in that. I checked the ph of the sauce (some I had in the fridge) and it was right at 4.5, which is the edge of being acid enough. But I guess better safe than sorry. Thing is, I have water bath canned my salsa for years and never had problems and it is very similar to the tomato sauce. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

I guess it all depends on the acidity of the tomatoes! It's probably one of those things where you'd be safe 9 times out of 10 or even 99 out ot 100... but that last time, you'd be in trouble, LOL.

I'm sure they will offer that class again - they've had it several times. I thought it was pretty good. They talked about other ways of preserving food also, not just canning.


edifice rex said...

hEy Karen! yeah, I'll probably try to take that class when it comes up again. So, since you did take the class, are you canning much now?? :D