We planted a garden this year. It didn’t do as well as we wanted. The pumpkins are fine, really fine. Everything else, not really doing much to speak of. One of the ladies in the pre-school co-op was heading to Eastern Washington for Labor Day weekend.

In an impressive multi-person barter I ended up with two boxes of Roma tomatoes and a box of Gala apples. Now what to do with 40 pounds of tomatoes….  Make sauce!

Enter the Squeezo Strainer

My darling husband had to add on the pieces of wood at the end of the island counter so the kitchen equipment had some place to clamp on to. (Love ya Honey!)

I washed the tomatoes before I cut them up to run them through the Squeezo. I tried to get a photo of the water, but it didn’t show the color properly. The soapy water had an odd greenish-yellow tint to it. We agreed that it was probably some oily coating that was applied to protect the produce. There is a reason I wash all of the produce before I use it. Ugh.

The family all chipped in to help turn the crank to process the tomatoes. (Yes, even the teenager!) It made the work go faster, and was more fun than by myself.

I think we had about 5.5 gallons of juice & pulp. The big stock pot holds 4 gallons and the small pot can handle about 1.5 with room to move. I got a late start on the processing and the sauce went on to reduce at about 10:30PM. I got it cranked up and brought it to a boil, then reduced the heat and let it simmer over night on the lowest setting to keep it from scorching. This is probably not the best method, but I figured it can work while I sleep.

It took almost all day to reduce to the right consistency. Which was fine. I thought I had quart jars in the cupboard, but I only had pints & half pints. Thankfully my sweet husband came to the rescue and wagged home a couple of boxes of new quart jars on his way back from town. (Love ya Honey!)

I made this batch without salt. My grandmother can’t eat salt, she puffs up like the Stay-Puft marshmallow man. So this batch of sauce is made with her in mind. I’ll send her a few jars. We don’t need all of that salt either. We can add some in when we actually use it. I put up 6 jars of plain and then added the tail end of a bottle of old vine Zinfandel wine that we had left from the weekend. I heated up the remaining sauce to reduce it down while the other jars were processing.

About 28 hours later and we ended up with 12 jars of sauce from 40 pounds of tomatoes. This may last us 3 to 6 months. It may have been cheaper to buy them from the store, but at least I know what is in these jars. If I had a 3 acre garden and grew the tomatoes myself, then it might be cheaper to process them. This is still not too bad and we had fun with it. I am sure it will taste so much better than the store brands.

I also ran a test batch of salsa for my husband. He makes at least one big batch every year, but we don’t always eat it all up before it starts to turn. I had one space open in the canner so I thought I’d give his recipe a go to see if it would take the heat of canning. Apparently it separated out some. I’ll wait to see if it redistributes as it cools.

On to the wild berries and the 20 pound box of apples….