The tomatoes are on at Gathering Together Farm! Even after all the markets are packed and orders are filled, we still have more tomatoes than we can handle. Each week we make roasted tomato salsa to sell at our farmers’ markets and farm stand; yet our beautiful bounty continues to grow. Now is the time to get a bulk price discount on #2 canning tomatoes ( $20 for a 20-lb box). Call the office at 541-929-4273 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to place a special order. You can arrange to pick up these orders at the farm or farmers’ markets that we attend. Please order at least a day before you’d like to receive them.
Every year I supplement my garden tomato crop with GTF seconds and make both tomato sauce and paste. Some years, when I have any canning enthusiasm remaining, I make salsa. Paste is my pantry gold. Romas are a great paste tomato, but I use whatever I have. I roast the tomatoes overnight in baking dishes at 220° F. Many home canners and recipes call for removing the skins, but I just haven’t noticed a big enough difference in flavor to justify the effort, so I don’t do this. In the morning, I pour off the water and blend the tomatoes in a high-powered blender. This gives you a pretty thick sauce to start with. I also cheat a little.
The same evening that I set the tomatoes to roast, I blend whatever tomatoes do not fit into the oven. I pour the sauce into dehydrator trays and dehydrate through the evening. I add the dehydrated tomato leather to the sauce. This thickens the sauce to a paste-like consistency.
I have found quite a spread of varying recipes for tomato paste. Some call for herbs, spices, sugar and even other vegetables. I am not looking for that sort of paste. I am looking for concentrated tomato flavor, a “tomato butter” perhaps. The end product has a rich roasted flavor with a powerful sweetness. I use tomato paste in almost everything I make. I use it in marinades, dressings, sauces, curries, soups and more. It pairs well with almost any flavor and aids in the quest for the desired umami.
I chose to can my paste but you can simply freeze it too. I have frozen paste in ice cube trays and bagged it for easy portion use. For canning purposes, tomatoes need to be acidified either with citric acid or lemon juice. I used citric acid for my jars and didn’t find that the taste was compromised in any way. If you decide to can your tomatoes I recommend following University Extension approved recipes, or recipes from the Ball Canning books published after 1988. Canning times for tomatoes have changed, so it is in your best interest to stay up-to-date on safe canning practices. You can find canning classes and recipes on the OSU Extension’s Food Preservation web page.