Over at the gorgeous A Way To Garden, Margaret asks what your tendency is, to savor or store the produce bounty that anyone with a garden confronts this time of year. I’ve written before about what an inspiration Joan Dye Grussow is to my garden project, and so I think there’s nothing more to say than, yeah, I’m a hoarder.
So here’s this weekend’s tomato harvest. The weather has gotten cold, and I’ve had to cover the row of plants with plastic, so now we’re in that dodgy part of the year when I have no idea whether there will be more, or whether this is it (I do so hope those Marglobes get enough heat out there to ripen, because they’re lovely, and big).
Here they are sorted out — clockwise from the top right: Milano plum, Jaunne Flamme, Galina, Sasha’s Altai/Prairie Fire and a couple of early Marglobes, tomatillos. and Principe Borghese plums. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with them — I considered making sauce, but I have some left from last year. So I made salsa — I started with a recipe from Rick Bayless and fired up the grill outside. I grilled the tomatoes until the skins blistered up, then blackened some serrano chiles and the tomatillos as well. I made one salsa with the tomatillos, a serrano, a big handful of cilantro, and a clove of garlic. It’s delicious — very hot, but delicious. It only made one half pint so I just stuck it in the fridge.
I skinned and cored the tomatoes, which were kind of watery. I had to pour off excess water a couple of times before putting them in the food processor. I whizzed them up with a clove of garlic but it became clear that the tomatoes were going to turn into juice before the garlic got chopped fine so I fished out the big chunks and moved to the mini-chop. I love my mini-chop, for stuff like this it’s much better than the big processor. I threw a couple of cloves of garlic, some salt, a lot of cilantro and the juice of 2 limes in the mini-chop, whizzed them up to a rough puree and then stirred them into the salsa. I also minced 2 small white onions from the garden and stirred that in, then added about half a teaspoon of citric acid just to up the acid level in case the tomatoes and lime juice weren’t quite enough. Then I cold packed them in sterilized half-pint jars. After I made the peach chutney (another post) I put all 12 jars in a hot water bath and processed them for 45 minutes. Here’s the fruit of those labors — a dozen little jars of stuff for winter. Sauces that I know exactly what’s in there and where it came from — the salsa came out delicous — I haven’t tried the processed salsa, but the cup or so that was left over and went in the fridge is lovely. I’ve been eating it on everything — eggs especially. All hoarded away on the top shelf in my pantry. I love looking up there and seeing what I’ve stored away, knowing that in a blizzard I’ll be fine. And I’m not entirely selfish with it all — all my loved ones get Christmas baskets with whatever I’ve been making this year. But there’s that funny part of me that wants to put up all my food for the winter from my backyard — the same part of me that greets any financial anxiety, no matter how minor, by stocking up on dried pasta. A barometer of my anxiety level — how many boxes of Barilla are there in my pantry?