Tomato Paste

This year’s garden didn’t do so great. Mostly due to not great weather. We lost our zucchini to being over watered by the amount of rain we got. The green bean barely had a chance to produce a few beans before the plants died for the season. Luckily though the tomato plant is one that was definitely a late bloomer but definitely got a good harvest out of it! This year I grew heirloom roma tomatoes which are perfect for turning into homemade tomato paste!

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Here is my first batch of freshly picked tomatoes for the season! To get started with this recipe the tomatoes need to be thoroughly rinsed to remove any debris from the skins. I do not peel my tomatoes before cooking so it is important to clean the skins well.

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Next I remove the stems if there are any and slice each tomato in half and remove the seeds. Once each tomato has been prepared, it goes into the pot on medium heat.

I allow the tomatoes to break down into a nice tomato sauce consistency before I carefully ladle everything through a mesh strainer and into a heat resistance bowl.  This gets all the tomato skins and any stray seeds out of the tomato sauce.

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Once all the tomato skins have been removed, the tomato sauce goes back into the pot to cook some more. At this point you want to evaporate as much water as you can out of the tomatoes.It should have a soft paste-like consistency, typically it takes about 30 minutes to achieve this consistency. If you want to season this tomato sauce with anything now is the time to do it. Normally I add a little bit of ground black pepper, salt , and oregano. But feel free to add or omit any seasonings.20190929_2004573372372794616261983.jpg

After 30 minutes, remove the tomato paste from the pot and spared evenly on the bottom of a shallow pan. I used a squared glass Pyrex for this and it worked out really well. You want to spread out as evenly as possible because this will be going into the oven. Uneven layer will cause thinner spots to burn and thicker spots to hold onto more moisture. Once you have the tomato paste spread out as evenly as possible place it into a preheated 200 degree oven. This will slowly evaporate more of the liquid out of the tomatoes and concentrate the tomato flavor. Check and mix every 15 minutes so that the tomato paste does not burn. Typically this takes about an hour and a half until you achieve a paste consistency. Remove from oven and allow it to cool down before putting the tomato paste into a storage container. Tomato paste has many different applications in cooking. Stick around for part 2, Homemade Ketchup!

 

 

 

First Harvest

Last night was my first harvest from my garden! Very late in the planting season I got an heirloom tomato, 5 Japanese eggplants, and 6 cucumbers as baby plants. I then planted them in one of the flowers beds at my grandparents place. I had to plant around the peony bush, but I think it turned out well.

The plants have been growing since the end of June. I honestly doubt I’m going to get eggplants this year because of the rats and squirrels eating anything that gets to be about half the size they should be.

I finally have 1 heirloom. I’ve had a lot of large green tomatoes sitting there for a long time. 1 of them finally turned red. It’s not in the best of conditions but a large portion of it should still be eatable.

I also had a very interesting surprise with my cucumber plants. I thought I had regular seedless cucumbers, after they started growing I realized that these were not normal cucumbers and did some research.

Turns out that these little guys are Mexican Sour Gerhkins. It’s a rare seed variety (in the U.S.) that only grows to the size of a grape. The skin is eatable so rinse and snack is an option. It tastes like a cucumber with a bit a citrus/sour flavor.

I think though with this amount I’m going to pickle these guys. Unless someone out there has a recipe I could try?