Wherein I proceed to get all Kingsolver-esque

September 14, 2009

plum_tomatoes

In what way? The photo above is of ten pounds of roma tomatoes. I bought them to freeze.

Why? Because Barbara Kingsolver’s account of the myriad ways to preserve tomatoes for use during winter months was so romantic — in a self-sufficient, finger-to-the-storebought-can, empowering sort of way. I found, however, that to utilize all her poetic methods, I was lacking a few things:

  1. The utensils or desire to can them. Someday, I will do this. Maybe after I’m no longer wiping the rear ends of cute children.
  2. A food dehydrator, to dry them (confession to The Internets and My Husband: I’m about to bid for one on ebay).

But a freezer? That, I have. I had been thinking about trying to pick up a few pints of roma tomatoes from the farmer’s market, but until last Saturday the cheapest I could get them was $2/pint. Not a great price. Last week though, I was purchasing beets and red peppers from one of my regular stops: the Mennonite farm stand in the corner (I keep trying to catch them off-guard so they’ll confess to being bogus in some way, since they sell lovely certified organic produce for relatively dirt cheap — but they stay on their toes, and keep coming back with very convincing and honest answers — go figure). He had this huge box of romas, sitting underneath his table. I asked how much they were, and he replied that they’d be 50¢ a pound, if I bought the whole box. Well, the box probably weighed at least 50 pounds, and I had walked to the market. I wavered, and confessed my predicament. He told me I could take as many as I could carry, for $1/pound. Sold.

There is that small matter of actually freezing the tomatoes. It shouldn’t be so bad, and I plan to do it tomorrow. The rundown:

  • Fill a large stockpot or dutch oven with water, and bring to a rolling boil.
  • While waiting for your water to boil, rinse the tomatoes, and score a small “x” just through the skin on the underside (i.e., not the stem end) of the tomato. This will help you peel them.
  • Fill a very large bowl with ice water (lots of ice).
  • When your water comes to a boil, lower 8-10 tomatoes (however many you can without overcrowding) into the water, and immediately start a timer. After 30 seconds, remove the tomatoes and immediately put them into the ice water.
  • After a minute or two in the ice water, you can slip the skins right off the tomatoes. Repeat the whole process (make sure your water comes back to a boil before each addition) until all your tomatoes are skinned.

At this point, I cut them in half, pole-to-pole, and remove any large cores. I also seed them — many people don’t do this step, but it’s really easy (although a little messy), and makes for much thicker marinara when it comes time to cook. Seeding them is easy: after cutting them in half, give a gentle squeeze over the sink, and run your finger quickly through the seed cavities to remove. You don’t have to get every single seed; just get out what you can without much fuss.

Then, you just put them in freezer bags. I’ll probably try to put a pound in a bag, just to help me when thawing. Squeeze out as much air as you can (or get really anal, like certain people who shall rename unnamed, and use a drinking straw to suck all the air out before you seal. It’s not unlike drinking tomato-flavored air… or at least, that’s just what I’ve heard).

To be honest, I have no idea how well this is going to work. I’ve never made marinara from frozen tomatoes. When I settle on a method that falls under the category of delicious, you will be the first to know.

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