Tag Archives: easy food preserving

Make Your Own (Freezeable) Tomato Puree

29 Aug

While I wait, anxiously, for my own paste tomatoes to ripen before some sort of blight gets them (my tomatoes are abundant and my only hope left for a reasonable harvest of something this summer), my CSA, Restoration Farm, is piling on tomatoes of all stripes..I think we picked up 7-10 lbs this week alone, and since the friend we share with , Allison, has not been around, we’ve been taking it all home. So…I have made and frozen a couple of quarts of sauce recently, using the simple recipe that follows.

Bubbling puree. Stir occasionally to break up.

Bubbling puree. Stir occasionally to break up.

There are other ways to do it (some cooks just blanch, peel and run through the food mill and don’t cook it at all; while some, including me, just blanch and freeze whole tomatoes), but I like this because the puree is smooth and ready to go in a pinch and the hint of garlic gives it a round flavor without taking it in a particular ethnic direction.

I strain the sauce through a regular strainer, then eat the seeds and solids!

I strain the sauce through a regular strainer, then eat the seeds and solids!

The blanching may seem daunting at first and yes, it does add time to what you are doing, but it is so simple and I like to watch the tomatoes float up and down in the bubbles and slipping off the peels so easily is somehow satisfying.

So give it a try if you get your hands on some paste tomatoes and enjoy summer freshness when there is snow on the ground!

The final product! Tomato puree that will be great when the weather turns....

The final product! Tomato puree that will be great when the weather turns….

Tomato Puree

3-5 lbs paste tomatoes

3-5 cloves garlic minced

½ tsp coarse salt

To blanch tomatoes, put a big pot of water on to boil. Be ready with tongs and a big bowl of ice water on the side.

Rinse and core tomatoes. Drop into boiling water (you will probably have to do batches). Remove each tomato as soon as its skin starts to wrinkle/split, and drop in the ice water.

Once the tomatoes are sufficiently cooled to handle, slip off the peels and discard peels or add to stock (thanks John Picardi, or was it Mad Dog for that tip!).

Dump the water from your big pot and add the peeled tomatoes, split or chopped in half if you like. (If you have a food mill, you can put the tomatoes through the mill first to eliminate seeds. Or, there is another suggested way to do it later in the recipe). Add garlic and salt, bring to a boil, then simmer for five, ten, 15 minutes…however long you want. The flavor is bright early on and mellows somewhat with more cooking, so it is up to you which you prefer.

When you’ve reached desired flavor, let cool. At this point, since my food mill is missing a piece, I press the sauce through a strainer into a bowl. The solids remain in the strainer and…true confessions…I use that as a spread on toast because the seeds don’t bother me there, but they do bother me in a smooth sauce. Then pour the sauce into a freezer-safe container (you will yield anywhere from a pint to a quart depending on quantity of tomatoes and how much liquid evaporated in the cooking) and freeze for a fresh neutral tomato puree in the middle of winter!


Natalia’s Refrigerator Pickles (prep in 30 minutes, eat in 24 hours)

11 Aug



Refrigerator pickles are kind of like entry-level preserving for those of us who aspire to be like Martha Stewart, but don’t have the time, patience or domestic staff.

I started making them last year with a bumper crop of CSA pickles and zucchini and had so much fun, instant gratification and praise that I have kept going. I actually entered them in the Long Island Fair last fall, but the jar cracked and put me out of the running (wardrobe malfunction of the foodista variety). I will try again next year (so don’t even think about trying to enter this recipe on your own!).

These are a really popular item at BBQs and nice hostess gifts for wherever you are going to have dinner. By all means play around with the ingredients; I think turmeric is crucial, but leave it out for a more pure dill flavor.

And really, they don’t take more than 30 minutes to get in the jars if you arrange your ingredients ahead of time. Use labels to keep track of ingredients and Best By date (they keep about 3 months in the fridge).

Natalia’s Refrigerator Pickles

2 lbs medium Kirby cucumbers, sliced (I prefer spears, but you can also do rounds. Zucchini can also be substituted. Do not eliminate turmeric if using zucchini)

1 medium onion, sliced thin

6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed (1.5 cloves per jar)

1 tsp black peppercorns

1 tsp whole mustard seed

1 tsp turmeric (This stuff stains! Careful!)

Several sprigs fresh dill weed

4 whole dried bay leaves (1 per jar)

1 1/3 cups brown sugar

13 TBS distilled white vinegar (approx ¾ Cup)

13 TBS white wine vinegar (approx ¾ Cup)

1.5 Cups water

  1. Divide cucumber and dry ingredients (except sugar) evenly between four quart jars with lids.
  2. Stir together brown sugar, vinegars and water.
  3. Pour vinegar mixture into the jars, screw on lids and shake well to combine. (Don’t worry if there doesn’t seem to be enough liquid to cover. The contents shrink after a day)
  4. Cover and chill. You can start eating them after 24 hours and they will keep up to three months in the fridge. Eat the onions too!
%d bloggers like this: