Monday, September 05, 2005

Labour Day, 2005, pt. 1

55 pounds of tomatoes
Originally uploaded by michelle1975.

The harvest season makes you do crazy things. You feel the pressure that comes from huge bushels of fruits and vegetables bursting with ripeness and priced to move. Cucumbers, peppers, beans, eggplants,

eggplants, Jean Talon Market
Originally uploaded by michelle1975.

and tomatoes all weigh heavy on my mind.

this year's crop of tomatoes
Originally uploaded by michelle1975.

You can see why from the photos above.

After days of trying to track down a ride to the market (bikes were not going to cut with the quantities we were envisioning), my sister came through and made today's labour possible.

Last year, we made about 6 litres of tomato sauce, which went pretty fast. I remember saving the last jar for a long while, waiting for the right occasion to finish the batch. I think it made it into February. This year we decided we had to "go big." The most we'd ever made was when we converted 25 pounds of tomatoes into sauce one Labour Day a few years ago. Those were some of the most phenomenal tomatoes ever. We found them at a farmer's roadside stand in Lanaudière, just to the north of Montreal, and they were so ripe we had to drive home as quickly as possible so that we wouldn't lose them en route. In the end, there wasn't a bad one in the box, and, we'd gotten the whole bunch for a mere $5.00. Ridiculous, but true.

This time around we picked up 55 pounds (!) of roma tomatoes. They weren't quite as perfect as those tomatoes from Lanaudière, but they were pretty nice and they only set us back $12.00. At first we were going to get the $7.00 box, but then we decided, "Why mess around?" We thought this box was going to make tons. Well, it made 13 litres, but is that really enough for the long winter ahead? I mean, in Montreal you never know. What if we wound up having one of those 6-month winters? We're already talking about going back next week for round two. After all, it only took us about 3 hours to convert those tomatoes into the best sauce you've ever tasted.

Originally uploaded by michelle1975.

Our fresh tomato sauce has always been tasty (how can you go wrong?), but this time it tastes even better and it looks super "pro," too, because we finally got a proper food mill to crush our blanched tomatoes, and remove their skins and seeds.

What we did:
We washed and blanched 55 pounds of romas. We passed them through a food mill to extract as much juice and pulp as possible, while discarding the skins and seeds. We bought two bulbs of the best garlic we could find, pressed it, and sauteed it in olive oil. We added the tomatoes, some salt and pepper, and some herbes de Provence, stewed the mixture for about an hour, skimming off any impurities. Then we canned our sauce with a sprig of basil and a sprig of oregano in each jar.

Guess what we had for dinner tonight? Yep, we had a bit of sauce left over after we canned those 13 litres, and it was just enough for a dinner for two. Perfect.

Do yourself a favor. Make your own sauce. Now is the time. The markets are waiting for you.



Tana said...

The more you blog, the more I like it.

This is a lovely post.

aj kinik said...

Hi Tana,
Thank you. Glad you liked it.

Labour Day weekend always seems to be the peak late summer harvest weekend around these parts. It always makes for a crazy weekend. Crazy good, not crazy bad.

michel said...

once again jen and i are inspired by an endless banquet, and are right now blanching our $12 of jean-talon market tomatoes, and embarking on our very first canning adventure! we even have the perfect space in the basement for the sauce, the very same space where jen's grandma stored her home canned goodies. i keep telling our mutual friend robin that we have to meet sometime!

aj kinik said...

hi michel,
nice to hear from you--i'll tell robin to hup to--let us know how your canning adventure turns out--we're off to the market again tomorrow to pick up one more box of tomatoes--we're itching to make batch #2 and we've still got a rental car leftover from our trip to pittsburgh, so...