Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Day of Canning Tomatoes

When I wrote about having a miracle steamer to extract grape juice from the grapes, I didn't give you much detail only where you could buy it online. Now I am going to show you how it works. I had never tried anything but grapes, but you can steam meat, a whole chicken, make wine and make applesauce. It is a very useful tool in the kitchen. It is called Mehu-Liisa Juice Extractor & Steam Cooker from Finland. Again you can find it online at Lehman's, the Amish store in Kidron, OH. I hear it is a very interesting store about one acre in size and usually surrounded by horses and buggies. I hope to visit one day soon. Here is the steamer itself.

It is made up of stainless steel and has three components. The base that holds water, the middle section where the juice collects and the basket is the top section to hold whatever you are going to steam. I used the recipe for making Tomato Bouillon and Tomato Paste. It takes 12 pounds of tomatoes, quartered. I used a mix of Juliet, Bush Goliath, Patio, Celebrity and Early Girl from our garden. One small bunch of carrots, diced (about 1 pound), I used a white French carrot called Carotte Hybride Blanc from our garden, 4 onions, sliced (store bought), 1 bunch celery, cut in 1-inch pieces (store bought) and 3 green peppers, cut in pieces. I used a pepper called San Marco from our garden. The recipe also called for a teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar. You just remove the stems and ends and layer vegetables into steamer basket and sprinkle the salt and sugar over the top of everything. I divided my vegetables into two batches. I have a pot that collects the juice from the tube. Steam over rapidly boiling water for 60 minutes.

At the end of the time you stir the vegetables to get some of the tomato pulp and color into the juice. It is pretty watery as you will see, but it can be used where broth is needed in a recipe or as a simple soup with maybe some herbs that you freeze for the winter to brighten the flavor. The "paste" left in the basket can be strained through a food mill, but I just put it in pint jars as it was like very chunky stewed tomatoes.

The jars were all processed for 35 minutes in a boiling water bath. A wonderful way to enjoy the garden in the middle of winter!

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