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sfprankster's (mis)adventures with Cosmetically Challenged Tomatoes, Apples and Strawberries

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 

The flood of the tomato harvest has arrived in CA.


Yesterday, we picked up a box(20+ lbs) of cosmetically challenged, organic Early Girl tomatoes, to begin canning for the upcoming winter months... :rolleyes: Nothing like opening a jar of tomatoes, in December or January to remove the chill, with the memories of the past summer's harvest...





This is a very easy process to preserve some of the summer bounty of fruits and veggies... :icon_mrgreen:


Begin by washing and chopping the tomatoes...






...sanitize the jars in boiling water and add a tablespoon of fresh squeezed, organic lemon juice to each jar... 





...add the chopped tomatoes, firmly pressing the tomatoes into the jars(don't want half empty jars :frown: ) and closing the lids...





...since I am using raw tomatoes with the skins on, I placed them into a simmering water bath for 45-50 minutes...


...removed from the water bath and let cool on a sheet pan...


...you will hear the lids "pop" when they have cooled and created a vacuum...





...got on the computer and made labels so I know what is inside and when it was preserved... 





19 jars of cosmetically challenged tomatoes, with more to come... :cool: 


You'll never know they were once cosmetically challenged once they have been canned... 241.png





This is just the beginning, to restocking the empty spaces in my pantry... :yahoo: 

Edited by sfprankster - 9/2/15 at 11:10am
post #2 of 37
Thread Starter 

While talking with the same farmer, she mentioned she also had cosmetically challenged apples. Not as many as the tomatoes, but just a few lbs. Some had cracks, a few bird pecks and other deformations. From the outside, these apples looked like most other varieties, a light golden, yellowish  skin. Once peeled and chopped, the flesh was a variegated pink and white tones. I'll have to ask next week the varietal name of apple. With so few, there wasn't enough to make an apple pie filling, so I decided to preserve them as applesauce.


Again, like the tomatoes, this is a simple recipe. Chopped apples, cinnamon(to taste), fresh squeezed lemon juice, sugar(to taste) and water. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes and add to the jars, using the same process as above. Since this a cooked item, I shorted the time in the water bath to 40 minutes.


I use less sugar than most recipes call for, since I prefer to taste the apples over the sugar.





Sorry about the focus, my phone doesn't take the best images, but this shows the flesh color well... 






...ready to add into the pantry... :tongue:


post #3 of 37
Thread Starter 

As an added bonus, we were given a flat of strawberries that were on their last days for free... :icon_rolleyes: Lots of bruises and other deformities, but can't complain for the price... :smile:






With a little creative cleaning and trimming...





...ended up with 3 quart sized zip lock bags crammed with strawberries...


...enough to make agua frescas over the next couple of days... :pot:

post #4 of 37
Thread Starter 

For less than $20 and a few hours of time, depending on your knife skills... :duel: 



I ended up with 19 pint jars of tomatoes...


...2 pint jars of applesauce...


...3 quart bags of strawberries...





So much better than spending it at the supermarket for fruits and veggies from an unknown source... :icon_eek: 

post #5 of 37
Thread Starter 

Strawberry agua frescas... :drool



Add strawberries, water and sugar into a blender...





...whirl away...





...enjoy in a tall glass... cheers.gif


post #6 of 37
Great post, thanks for sharing. I have some tomatoes that will be ripe soon, and I'll try your method, if I can manage to keep some. Seems my daughter and her husband enjoy fried green tomatoes, and raid my little bucket garden every week.
post #7 of 37
Thread Starter 




Canned tomatoes are one of my favorites. A little evoo, onion, garlic, spices, parmigiano reggiano and you have a pasta sauce in minutes.



I wish I could keep a garden going here at home. As my friend says, "we grow a salad bowl in the desert". The local flora and fauna are having a tough time with the drought and anything I grow, besides onions and poisonous flowers(daffodils, hyacinth, etc), gets eaten rather quickly.


In my business, I work directly with several local farms. Having this relationship over the years, gives me access to many heirloom fruit and veggie varieties. The farmers all know, they can drop off unsold produce at my work and we'll make something out of it. If not us, then the caterer or the baker I share a commercial kitchen with will. 

post #8 of 37
I have a deck just outside my kitchen. The smoker, grill, a propane 1 burner for my discada, and 2' x 3' flat top on the deck let me enjoy cooking outside. The bucket garden out there is just a row of white, food grade plastic buckets that I grow my salsa garden in. I usually grow 4 varieties of peppers, grape tomatoes, Roma's, and some beefsteaks. A little cilantro, oregano, and rosemary round out the garden. I just water with the hose, and I'm done in 5 minutes. I sprinkle some Cayenne once a week, and voila, no bugs eating my little crop.
post #9 of 37
Thread Starter 

My garden is up on our deck as well.


I sprinkle everything with chili powder regularly. The chili powder keeps the deer and bunnies away. The raccoons and chipmunks seem to enjoy it.


The chipmunks ate my scorpion and naga chili plants last week to the tiniest nub. They all had chilies growing, some up to an inch.



I hope it burnt all the way down and out. :th_violent5: 

post #10 of 37
Thread Starter 

Found out today the name of the variety of apples I made into applesauce.


They're called Pink Pearls.



We're planning on having some for dinner with smoked pork spareribs... :36: 

Edited by sfprankster - 9/2/15 at 11:11am
post #11 of 37
Thread Starter 

Nothing says "summertime" more than fresh tomatoes... 241.png




Round two of the tomato preservation project..:rolleyes:




This time around, we purchased a flat of cosmetically challenged(soft) heirloom tomatoes from one of our favorite local farms, Happy Boy Farms...


...cherokee purple, brandywine, yellow valencia, with a few san marzanos tossed in to fill the empty spaces... :drool






...chopped tomatoes and fresh squeezed, organic lemon juice into the jars...






...into a hot water bath for 45-50 minutes... jaw-dropping.gif


...no overcrowding in the pool kiddies... :cool:






...first batch fresh out of the hot water bath...  


...waiting for the "ping" of the lids, indicating a good vacuum within the jars... :icon_mrgreen:







...labelled and ready for storage...




This winter, when the tomatoes in stores are expensive and rather tasteless...



...we'll be breaking into our canned tomatoes for sauces, soups, etc... :yahoo: 

Edited by sfprankster - 9/2/15 at 2:59pm
post #12 of 37

Looks like I need to make friends with some local farmers to get the "scratch and dent" specials. 

post #13 of 37
Thread Starter 

Over the years, I have worked with 15-20 local farms in my business making chocolates.


They see me as an opportunity to sell jammers(berries), sauce tomatoes, etc...


...as well as exposure in various international/national chocolate and food competitions...





I begin my weekdays in the evenings. Some farms come by my commercial kitchen, after the farmer's market, to drop off unsold produce. That's when I get the GREAT deals. 241.png 


...also when it can become somewhat overwhelming, to receive 15-20 flats of berries at once... :icon_eek: 

post #14 of 37
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by bmaddox View Post

Looks like I need to make friends with some local farmers to get the "scratch and dent" specials. 


I also cheat and bring them chocolates, made from their fruits, nuts, herbs, etc... :icon_mrgreen:



...makes them much more likely to offer deals and discounts... :rolleyes: 

post #15 of 37
Originally Posted by sfprankster View Post


I also cheat and bring them chocolates, made from their fruits, nuts, herbs, etc... :icon_mrgreen:



...makes them much more likely to offer deals and discounts... :rolleyes: 


i dont call that cheating..... more like.... wise investments lol

post #16 of 37
Thread Starter 

All of the farmers I work with love to see their hard work produced into a finished product.





Last night we made a French style chocolate truffle, created specifically for an upcoming food/wine pairing competition...


...using organic and fair trade 70% cacao chocolate...


...infused with a red table wine... 


...fresh, organic, cosmetically challenged, golden raspberries...


...and organic, aromatic spices...


...to be paired with a Rhone varietal blend...





Originally Posted by jcollins View Post


i dont call that cheating..... more like.... wise investments lol






So, technically, it is cheating... :cool: 

post #17 of 37

I don't know about cheating.  Around here we call it swappin work! :beercheer:

post #18 of 37
Thread Starter 

Round Three of sfprankster's Tomato Preservation Project  



More summertime goodness preserved... :thumbsup:



Another large box of cosmetically challenged, dry farmed, organic Early Girl tomatoes were cleaned/cored/canned at my work tonight. This batch, along with the first two, should be more than enough to get us through the upcoming winter and spring with tomatoes galore. I foresee lots of pasta sauces, soups and anything else needing tomatoes in my future.




Hot out of a simmering water bath, waiting for the magical "ping"... :tongue:






...labeled and cooling before being placed into our pantry... :icon_mrgreen:


post #19 of 37

Great job and great pictures.  That's the beauty of produce, once it is "processed/prepared" nobody is the wiser as to what it looked liked going into the pot.  I remember as a youngin my grandma making applesauce.  She would boil the apples whole, through them into a food mill stems, cores, worm holes and all - she didn't.  End result was alway delicious.


I'm curious how it would work if you smoked some of the tomatoes before jarring?  Would the smoke flavor become too overpowering over time?  But it would make for a great gift to your farmer friend - perhaps something they may not have had before.

post #20 of 37
Thread Starter 
I've never tried smoking the tomatoes before canning them. With the second application of heat, they may break down into sauces without discernible tomato chunks. I have smoked veggies to be used in salsa, enchiladas, pasta sauces, soups, etc. These were all used the same day or the next. I still have the opportunity to obtain more tomatoes this summer, so I might just give it a try. Be an experiment for future preservation projects.

For our farmer friends, we bring them chocolates made with their harvest(fruits, nuts, herbs, chilies, etc). Very unique and something they can enjoy immediately at the market. biggrin.gif
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