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.