Here’s my three favourite ways to preserve tomatoes:
In a nutshell, this is simple: just blend them in a food processor, bring them to the boil in a pot, spoon them into clean jars, put the lid on the jars, then put the jars into a pot of water and boil for an hour. But for more detail, read on….
- Collect jars. I inherited some Fowlers jars and an old vacola from my great grandmother. If I was starting over, I would simply reuse jars with metal lids. The Fowler’s method requires purchase of new lids and rings, which are pretty expensive. Jars with metal lids can be salvaged for free. Ask your friends to start saving them for you.
- Wash the jars. You don’t need to sterilise them. Just make sure they are clean.
- Wash the tomatoes and remove any large cores. Chop in a food processor so that bits of skin are small rather than large and unpleasant. Place in a pot and bring to the boil. Ideally boil them down to a nice thick sauce, but this takes hours and when I’m doing 90kg, I need to get it done quickly, so I skip the thickening step. Spoon into your clean jars. Leave an inch of headroom at the top of the jars – this is necessary so that they can seal well.
- Put the lids on jars, tightly. If using Fowler jars, put rubber rings on jars before you fill them with fruit. Add lids and clips afterwards.
- Put the jars into a large pot, and fill to one inch below the jar lids with water. The jars all need to be the same height for this to work.
- Bring the pot to the boil (this can take an hour if the pot is large, the water is cold and the tomatoes inside the jars are cold, and it can be really quick if you put jars of hot tomatoes straight into the pot). There are complicated methods of calculating exactly how long you should boil your fruit for, depending on jar size and where you live. I simply boil them for 45 minutes to an hour, and start timing once the water reaches a rolling boil.
- Remove from the pot (be careful not to burn yourself!), allow to cool, and label the jars with their contents and the date preserved. Double check at this point that all the jars have sealed. It’s common for one jar in a batch to have a dodgy seal. Eat it up soon, or try to work out why it didn’t seal and try again. Maybe the lid is damaged and you need another lid, or there’s a chip in the jar? If so, recycle the dodgy equipment and get it out of your kitchen.
Here’s the recipe for my take on my friend Jade’s tomato chutney – it’s delicious.
6 apples, peeled, cored, chopped.
10 onions, chopped.
3kg tomatoes, chopped.
1 tbsp cloves
1 tbsp peppercorns
1 tbsp allspice
5 cups vinegar
4 cups rapadura sugar or 3 cups honey (or use 4 cups regular sugar if need)
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 2/3 cup sultanas
3 tbsp tapioca starch or arrowroot or corn flour
Cook apples, onions, tomatoes, vinegar, salt, sugar and spices for 1.5 hours. Add ginger and sultanas, cook for another half an hour. Reduce it right now, cooking for a long time. Stir regularly. Towards the end it will start to stick, and it’s done! Blend tapioca starch with cold water, mix through, then bottle in sterilised jars while hot.
Make Tomato Ketchup:
This is now an essential in our house. Delicious with pies, sausage rolls, chips, quiches etc.
The recipe I use is in the book, Frugavore, which is a fantastic read and well worth adding to your kitchen shelves. But I don’t think I’m allowed to just publish her recipe here. However, if you don’t have Frugavore, google on the net to find a good tomato ketchup recipe. Ours ended up being very similar to the above chutney recipe, but is blended finely to a sauce texture, and boiled for hours until it’s quite thick.
Actually – my dried tomatoes were not a success. They tasted exquisite semi dried, but once fully dried were rock hard, inedible, and refused to come good even when soaked in water or oil. If anyone knows the secret, do tell. I’m not drying tomatoes this year!