Monday, September 15, 2008

Frost and the First Fall Harvest

It was bound to happen, and sure enough, it did. We had our first killer frost last week. I covered what I could, but even so, some things took a hit.

When I got home after work that day, I pulled up all the pole and dry beans, tied them in bundles, and they are now hanging upside-down on the porch to dry (makes going in and out the back door a bit of a challenge). I threw row covers, blankets, tarps, sheets and towels over tomatoes, corn, squash and pumpkins. Since then we have been having very summery weather - hot and humid. So things are getting a second chance to ripen.

Saturday, after I returned from the Garlic Festival in Sharon Springs (highly recommended, by the way), I pulled the rest of my onions. Those that still had stalks have been braided and are hanging in the garage (the porch is already full of onions and the afore-mentioned beans, and the kitchen is full of onions and tomatoes). I pulled some carrots, too, including one monster that is as big as a silver dollar at the base of the leaves and close to a foot in length! A few small rutabagas joined the harvest.

A second batch of tomato sauce was brewed up that night and stuck in the freezer Sunday morning. Yes, indeed, using paste tomatoes makes all the difference when making sauce. My recipe? Well, hard to say - each batch is different. But here are the basics:

Ellen's Tomato Sauce

  1. Run a bunch of tomatoes (mostly paste, but add whatever else you have that is ripe) through a tomato food mill (like Squeezo - I kid you not, that is the name). This wonderful machine, which works like a meat grinder, squeezes out the juice and pulp in one direction, and the seeds and skins in another, nicely separating the two. Do this until you have about a gallon or more of juice.
  2. Pour the juice into a large kettle, preferably an enamel kettle and set on medium heat to start cooking. You want as much of the water to cook away as possible.
  3. Meanwhile, dice up an onion or two and saute in butter. When soft and tender, put the onions in the sauce.
  4. Additionally, cut up a few carrots. If they are small, use two or three. If large, you can probably use one. This will provide some sugar to cut the acid of the tomatoes. Toss into the sauce.
  5. Chop up some green peppers and add them to the sauce as well.
  6. If you have fresh basil, oregano, parsley, chop them up and put them in the pot. If not, used dried. I also put in some freshly ground black pepper.
  7. Cook. This part can take several hours. You want the moisture to go away, leaving you with a nice thick sauce. I usually give it three or four hours, then I'm ready for bed. I could probably go longer.
  8. Before you finish, toss in some grated Parmesan cheese. Mmmmm. I add maybe a half to three-quarters of a cup.
  9. Cool.
  10. Ladle into freeze-able containers and stick in the freezer. Voila!

No comments: