Monday, October 17, 2011

How to Blanch Tomatoes

Blanching equipment. Photo/Nicole Caldwell
'Tis the season for harvesting the last rush of produce in the garden before the onslaught of chilly (read: freezing!) weather. While the celery, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and leeks are in it for the long haul, our more sensitive produce like tomatoes have called it quits and needed to be plucked before they succumbed to the cold North Country climate. But what to do with all those romas?

One option is to make a bunch of sauce and can it—a project photographer-in-residence Erin Fulton took on about a month ago. The other choice is to blanch and freeze the tomatoes, then access them throughout the winter for sauces or soups. This is a much faster process than cooking all the sauce and canning it—so for the impatient among you, I'd say this is a much more obvious choice. Follow these easy instructions, and you're well on your way to having yummy, garden-fresh tomatoes all winter long.

What You Need:
Two large pots
Lots of roma tomatoes
A slotted spoon
A sharp knife
Freezer bags

How to Blanch:

1. Bring a pot of water to boil.
2. Fill a separate, large bowl with cold water and ice.
2. Remove stems from each tomato.
3. Make a shallow cut in the shape of an x on the bottom of each tomato with a knife.
4. Drop tomatoes in water and boil for about a minute; once the skin starts to peel back, they are done.  The point is not to cook them so watch the tomatoes closely.
5. Remove tomatoes immediately and "shock" them in the ice water.
6. You will now be able to easily remove the skin of the tomatoes—just pull the skins off by hand!
7. Compost the skins and bag the tomatoes in freezer bags, Get all the air out of the bags, label them, and put them in the freezer.

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