Produce is plentiful this time of year in Southwestern PA. I imagine that many of our CSA members are experienced caners and probably just as many have never done it. You are getting lots of tomatoes in your shares and if it begins to be more than you can keep up with you can always can or freeze some! If you need a little Canning 101, the East End Food Co-op is offering a class on canning tomorrow, August 16th! See below for details.
Penn’s Corner sells tomatoes and corn and other farm products in bushel and half bushel quantities through our farm stands. Often we offer 2nds which are great for processing and you can get them at a cheaper price than 1st quality. If you aren’t on our Farm Stand mailing list and would like to get more information about our next Farm Stand please email Lydia at firstname.lastname@example.org, and feel free to check out our list of available products here. Ordering for the August 22nd pick up is open till Thursday at 2pm!
Check out the following books if you are looking for resources:
Saving the Seasons by Mary Clemens Meyer and Susanna Meyer
Blue Ribbon Preserves by Linda Amendt
Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving by the US Department of Agriculture
Ball Complete Guide to Home Preserving by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine
THIS WEEK’S HARVEST
~ cantaloupe, Clarion River Organics, OG
~ 1.5# yellow peaches, Kistaco Farm
~ leek bunch, Blue Goose Farm, CNG
~ 1# Asian eggplant, Blue Goose Farm, CNG
~ 2# slicing tomatoes, Becarri’s Farm
~ 2 green bell peppers, Matthew’s Farm
~ 1/2# green beans, Blue Goose Farm, CNG
~ pint cherry or grape tomatoes, Blue Goose Farm, CNG or Kistaco Farm
~ cantaloupe, Clarion River Organics, OG
~ 1# Asian eggplant, Sunny Meadow Farm, CF or Crighton’s Farm
~ 1.5# field tomatoes, Matthew’s Farm
~ 1# carrots, Weeping Willow Farm, CF
~ 1/2# green beans, Hostetler’s Farm, CF
~ 1.5# peaches, Dawson’s Orchard
~ 1# heirloom tomatoes, Weeping Willow Farm, CF
~ 1/2 pint blackberries, Dawson’s Orchard
OG- Certified Organic CNG- Certified Natural Grown CF- Chemical Free
Tuesday, August 16, 7PM
Home Canning 101
The Farmer’s Wife, aka Maggie Henry of Henry Family Farm does more than provide farm fresh eggs to the co-op. Like many small family farmers she is a renaissance woman. Maggie will lead a workshop on pressure canning and water baths. Learn to “put up” your own homegrown haul, or your farmer’s market (or Coop or PCFA) finds. Extend local eating well into the winter, and save money, too!
Yield: About 4 cups sauce
4 pounds sad, unloved tomatoes (some swear by romas, I’ve had success with all varieties)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 to 3 small cloves of garlic
1/2 medium carrot
1/2 stalk of celery
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
Slivers of fresh basil, to finish
Peel your tomatoes: Bring a pot of water to boil. Cut a small X at the bottom of each tomato. Blanche the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10 to 30 seconds, then either rinse under cold water or shock in an ice water bath. Peeling the tomatoes should now be a cinch. If one gives you trouble, toss it back in the boiling water for another 10 seconds until the skin loosens up. Discard the skins (or get crafty with them).
Finish preparing your tomatoes: If using plum tomatoes, halve each lengthwise. If using beefsteak or another round variety, quarter them. Squeeze the seeds out over a strainer over a bowl and reserve the juices. (You can discard the seeds, or get crafty with them.) Either coarsely chop your tomatoes on a cutting board or use a potato masher to do so in your pot, as you cook them in a bit.
Prepare your vegetables: I finely chop my onion, and mince my carrot, celery and garlic, as does Bastianich. Batali grates his carrots. Burell pulses all four on the food processor to form a paste. All of these methods work.
Cook your sauce: Heat your olive oil in a large pot over medium. Cook your onions, carrots, celery and garlic, if you’re using them, until they just start to take on a little color, about 10 minutes. I really like to concentrate their flavor as much as possible. Add your tomatoes and bring to a simmer, lowering the heat to medium-low to keep it at a gentle simmer. If you haven’t chopped them yet, use a potato masher to break them up as you cook them. Simmer your sauce, stirring occasionally. At 30 minutes, you’ll have a fine pot of tomato sauce, but at 45 minutes, you might just find tomato sauce nirvana: more caramelized flavors, more harmonized texture.
If your sauce seems to be getting thicker than you want it to be, add back the reserved tomato juice as need. If your sauce is too lumpy for your taste, use an immersion blender to break it down to your desired texture. (“Blasphemy!” some will say, but they’re not in the kitchen with you. So there.) Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and more to taste. I like somewhere between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon for 4 pounds of tomatoes. Scatter fresh basil over the pot before serving. Taste once more. Swear you’ll never buy jarred sauce again.
More ways to play around: There are innumerable ways to tweak your tomato sauce. Some like a pinch of red pepper flakes cooked with the carrots/celery/garlic and onion in the beginning. Some add them at the end. Some swear by a glug of red wine added with the tomatoes. Others insist that a tablespoon of tomato paste will give your relatively quick-cooked sauce a longer-cooked flavor. Have fun with it.
To play around as little as possible: Skip the onion, carrot and celery. Just cook your tomatoes for 30 to 45 minutes and at the end, drizzle in some olive oil or melted butter. If you have time, you can infuse that oil or butter with garlic and basil. Season to taste with salt. Wonder why you ever added so many ingredients to something so obviously perfect without them.
Spicy Eggplant Spread with Thai Basil
from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
1 pound eggplant, any variety
1 1/2 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon mushroom or dark Chinese soy sauce
2 to 3 serrano chilies or other hot pepper, finely minced
3 tablespoons dark sesame or roasted peanut oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chopped basil
small basil leaves (use any type that you have on hand)
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds, roasted in a small skillet
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slash the eggplant in several pieces so it won’t explode. Put it in a pan and bake it until it is soft to the point of collapsing, 30 to 40 minutes. Allow the skin to char in places to give the dish a smokey flavor. Let cool for 15 minutes or so. Discard any bitter juices that may collect. Remove to a colander to cool. Peel- don’t worry about stubborn flecks of skin and coarsely chop flesh.
Mix the sugar, vinegar, soy and chiles together. Heat a wok or skillet over high heat and add the oil. When it begins to haze, add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the eggplant and stir-fry for two minutes, then add the sauce and fry for one minute more. Remove from heat and stir in chopped basil. Taste for salt.
Mound the eggplant in a bowl and garnish with the basil leaves and sesame seeds. Or spread the croutons or crackers and garnish each individually.