Cooler days are beginning to settle in. It's such a beautiful time of year. Crisp mornings, warm afternoons, cool evenings. As much as our family loves all of the adventures and outside activities that summer weather brings, I love the entry into fall. The smell, the colors, the coziness of it all. It's change and I am often reminded by the changing seasons that change is good.
This is also a time to start thinking about preserving the harvest. To start stowing away fruits, veggies, herbs and such that you've spent time and energy tending to all summer. Or things that are available to you from your local farmer or farmer's market. Every year I'm learning a little bit more about this idea, and trying something different each year. I love pulling out a can of homemade tomato sauce in the middle of January. Tomato sauce that was made from veggies from my garden. It's a treat. And while I still am very much a newbie in this department, I'm learning and asking questions from those that have more experience is this area and I get excited about the possibilities. So far my deep freeze has 50 pounds of strawberries, 65 pounds of blueberries, and a bushel of peaches. That's more than we've ever done before, and yet I realize we will probably go through it quicker than before now that we have 2 little girls who love their fruit and fruit smoothies. I'm just starting to head into canning tomatoes. I love canning tomatoes for stews and soups throughout the winter. I also love doing tomato sauce that we use for pizzas, pastas, and various dishes throughout the winter. So I share this to say I get real excited about preserving bits and pieces of the bounty of amazing, locally grown produce that is in full swing right now.
If you have a little baby who will be eating purees over the winter now is an amazing time to start making purees and storing them away. Puree. Freeze in ice cube trays. Store in freezer containers. It's really quite easy and quite inexpensive. Local, organic food for baby's first foods. Awesome!
As the cooler days set in and I start desiring more warming foods, roasted tomatoes have become a favorite in our house. I love the smell of slowly roasting tomatoes and the sweetness of the tomatoes after. My girls just gobble these up. Both of my girls have had reactions to store bought canned tomato products but they don't have any reactions to home canned tomatoes. So this encourages me even more to can my own tomatoes and tomato sauce. I haven't quite figured out why the reaction but it's consistent in both of them. Another interesting thing is that my husband tends to get heartburn from commercial tomato products but also does just fine with our home canned stuff. So this is my motivation for putting the work into. I don't know exactly why they all react but I know they do and it's not pleasant. I know buy buying good quality tomatoes and putting in some work, I can have some yummy goodness for my family for the cooler months ahead.
I like chop up any tomatoes I have that need to get used up. I will toss in heirlooms (all sizes and colors), romas, cherry, and grapes. I love the way they all combine to add an amazing sweet taste. I'll also add additional summer veggies to the mix. Zucchini. Summer Squash. Carrots. Garlic. Onion. I chop them up and put them on jelly roll pans (basically cookie sheets that have sides). I toss them with a bit of olive oil. I roast them at 300 degrees for between 1 1/2-2 hours. Check periodically to make sure they aren't burning. And settle in and enjoy the smell!
Once they are done allow to cool. Then simply put them in a blender or food processor. The sauce that is the result of this is my absolute favorite sauce. You can add fresh herbs or spices as you like. I think there are some canning rules about not adding to much fresh herbs because they may go bad...don't quote me on that but I feel like I read that a few different places. I usually add minimal herbs or spices and instead opt to add them when I open the jars of sauce. This way I can adjust the spices to whatever I'm cooking or using the sauce in.
This sauce can be used in a variety of ways. Added to your favorite pasta. Over a grain. On top of baked or grilled polenta. As pizza sauce (which is by far our favorite way to use it!)
I mean look at this amazing garden fresh pizza (minus the kalmattas!). You could always add a favorite cheese of choice but it's really quite delish just like this. Sauce, fresh garlic, sweet onions, sweet pepper, kalmattas and a some extra tomato slices. Amazing!