Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 23rd
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Putting Up: Part 2

dining hotplateThey say if it can be grown, it can be canned, or "put up.” In a cabinet under my mother's stove, there was a covered pan that contained solid paraffin. Each year, she would reheat it, add some more, and use it to seal the jars of jellies made from the fruit of our trees. I later learned the simpler and more reliable hot canning method.

We don't eat much jam any more, but it's like Laura Ingalls calls to me to prepare for the winter ahead. Sometimes I can grow little cucumbers and tarragon to make cornichons. But this year, I tackled tomatoes.

Three San Marzano seedlings (Love Apple Farms) yielded seven and a half pounds of torpedo-shaped fruits. I wanted a lightly seasoned crushed tomato sauce so that I could use it in different kinds of recipes.

I washed and cored the tomatoes and cut them into two-inch pieces, and then chopped them in batches in a standard food processor; some processed fine, and others coarse. To one batch I added half a dozen wonderfully sharp, large cloves of garlic (Shopper's Corner) and the leaves from a stalk of fresh oregano (grows like weeds in my yard). Then I just simmered them in a stainless steel pot (don't use aluminum) for about 45 minutes.

I packaged the 10 cups of sauce, two cups at a time, in quart-sized zipper plastic bags. They stack efficiently flat in the freezer, and I wash and either re-use or recycle them later.

I'm hoping for a pizza stone for the grill on my birthday. The dough is so easy to make (I cheat and use a bread machine), but we will enjoy Neapolitan-style pizzas baked at 500 degrees, topped with preservative- and sodium-free, garden-fresh tomato sauce. I might try a homemade pesto version too. | KP

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