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Tomato Junk

A Baker and her Toys



The end of summer is a busy time for canners. Peaches, pears, blackberries, plums, tomatoes, peppers, onions, beans, corn, squash... will it end? Hopefully not. Count yourself as blessed when you wonder how you are going to take care of it all. Mimi's Kitchen is buried under the abundance of the harvest and is thankful for every peach and pear waiting to be processed into pie filling and syrup as the corn is none too patiently waiting for the beans to be set aside while the onions and peppers are taking up space in the dehydrator. The herbs just might have to wait a week to be dried and bottled.

Women traditionally canned and dried all the produce they could grow in their kitchen gardens; their families depended upon their industrious spirit for survival. My own grandmothers canned in the southern heat over a wood burning stove in a kitchen that did not know the luxury of an air conditioner. They had to. That is how they fed their families.

Whereas our grandmothers canned out of necessity; we have the privilege of canning for the joy of being connected to our food supply, to capture some of the fresh flavor of summer harvest to be enjoyed during the long winter months, and for the satisfaction of a job well done. Many home canners appreciate knowing that their produce was grown from heirloom seeds without the use of

chemical sprays.

This tomato sauce is made from garden tomatoes, garlic, pepper, onion, and a bit of celery. It is quick to put together and makes great use of end of harvest veggies. I love using Tomato Junk as a soup base, in my meat loaf, Swiss steak and chili. It has a fresh taste and adds a depth of flavor to my winter dishes. I like knowing where my food came from and feel great satisfaction knowing that I put it by myself.

Tomatoes are a high acid food so it does not require pressure canning. It may be safely process in a water bath canner. This sauce may also be frozen, making it simpler yet. I choose to can mine because freezer space is sometimes in short supply. Maybe I should buy that third freezer...

Tomato Junk

8 quarts tomatoes, peeled* and cut into chunks

3 large onions, coarsely chopped

3 large green peppers, coarsely chopped

12 cloves garlic

4 hot peppers (jalapeño, Anaheim, or other garden peppers of your choice)

3 stalks celery

Distilled white vinegar

Combine all ingredients except the vinegar in a large stainless steel or enamel pot and cook for 45 minutes until tender.

While veggies are simmering prepare canning jars by washing in hot soapy water. Rinse well. Pour boiling water into each jar to sanitize.

When veggies have simmered a full 45 minutes then empty jars of hot water and add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to each jar. Pour hot sauce into prepared pint canning jars, leaving ½ inch head space.

Top each jar with a new lid and screw the ring on tightly.

Place jars in water bath canner and pour in enough water to cover the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. When water begins to boil turn the burner to medium low and maintain a constant simmer for 35 minutes.

When tomato junk has processed 35 minutes turn the burner off and let the jars set in the hot water for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes use a jar lifter to safely remove the jars from the hot water and allow to cool on the counter-top. Do not move or crowd the jars until they are completely cool.

Tomato junk may also be frozen. Allow the tomato mixture to cool until safe to handle. Then package into freezer containers or freezer bags and place in freezer. This keeps well all winter.

Yield: 8-10 pints

*To easily peel tomatoes Place a pot of water on the stove and let it come to a rolling boil. Place a bowl of ice water next to the stove. Rinse tomatoes clean and remove any stems that are still attached.Using a sharp knife, slice a shallow X into the bottom of the tomato (opposite the stem side).Gently place 3-4 tomatoes into the boiling water. Boil the tomatoes till you see the X begin to split open wider, or for 25 seconds, whichever comes first. Do not boil them for longer than 25-30 seconds or they will begin to soften and cook.Remove the tomatoes immediately from the boiling water using a slotted spoon.Place the tomatoes directly into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and let them cool off. Remove the tomatoes from the ice water. Begin peeling the skin at the X, pulling the skin back gently.

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