Saturday, April 10, 2010

Preserved tomatoes

Well, it's been an unusually social three weeks around here, with three overnight trips to Sydney for various reasons, and lots of comings and goings here. We've had visitors from Canada and Adelaide, birthday celebrations for my son, long overdue invitations to friends for lunch, Easter holidays, kids' sleepovers. I hope all that social activity (and let's be frank here, alcohol and chocolate) is why I'm feeling so lethargic. With nothing planned for the next few weeks and a better diet, hopefully I can regain a bit of energy.
One thing that needed attending, tired or not, was the tomatoes. Man alive. For some reason, our tomato bushes have lavished us with produce on an unprecedented scale, both the self seeded and the planted ones. And when you have kilos and kilos of tomatoes threatening to overtake your kitchen, you have to do something with them. Now.
I've never had this problem before, so I've been trialling different ways of preserving the bounty. I've made oven-dried tomatoes, tomato relish, pasta sauce and I've frozen pureed tomatoes. My favourite method of preserving, however, is the preserved tomatoes above, based on instructions given to my mother by my Zia Luigina in Italy, during mum's visit there in 1973. Mum wrote down her instructions as she watched her preserve tomatoes in this way, and only coincidentally came across the jottings while I was there this week. Coincidentally again, I picked up Tessa Kiros' Twelve while at the library today and she has a recipe in their that is very similar.
It is laughably easy and labour unintensive, and this is probably why I like it so much in my current state of over-it-ness.

Simply halve the tomatoes, and deseed them (as you can see I wasn't very strict with this). Let them sit in a colander for a while too disgorge any excess water. Finely chop some parsley, mix with a little salt and pepper. Pack the halved tomatoes into sterilised jars firmly (I used jars straight from the dishwasher), top with a little of the parsley mixture and two tablespoons of olive oil per jar. Close lids firmly.
Put the jars into a large pot (I put a tea towel in the bottom of the pot to stop them rattling), cover with boiling water, and simmer for 15-20mins. Keep in the water bath until completely
cool, and then remove.

That's it.

Do you have any other tomato preserving ideas?


Jan said...

Great to read your post, and about the social whirl at your place. It is wonderful to have visitors, but it can be a little tiring, especially if the conversation goes late into the night. Interesting to read about your abundance of tomatoes and that you have persevered and made use of them all.
I tried a few times but just didn't make a success of growing them at all.
Blessings - Jan

Marita said...

In previous years when we have been short on time to preserve our tomato harvest we simply put the tomatoes straight into the freezer whole... they look like shiny red balls... but when thawed make a great addition to those baked tomato dishes...

Paola said...

Hi Marita, I'll have to get a few tomatoes into the freezer too. Love the idea of no-labour preserving!
Jan, welcome to my blog, and thanks for becoming a follower! I normally have no luck with tomatoes so this year's abundance has surprised me somewhat.

Tilly said...

Hi Paola and thanks for the great recipes. I've copied quite a few out for future use. We grow a lot of toms too and make piles (well, freezer bags full) of pasta sauce which lasts 6 of us all winter. As well as the toms I put in onion, garlic (lots), basil and green/red/yellow peppers (capsicum). So useful in soups and with pasta. Do you have any tricks or tips for preserving/freezing green beans? I tried freezing for the first time last year and they were yuk - soft and tasteless. Any ideas? Enjoy your blog. Thanks for sharing your lifestyle etc.

Paola said...

Hi Tilly - thanks for the comment! I can't shed any light on preserving green beans. I've been blanching and freezing them, but like you, find that they don't keep their crispness. I end up putting them in vegetable curries where the texture doesn't seem to matter so much. Sorry I can't help on that score...