Better Run Better Run

The more I cast about in the online jarring and preserving communities, the less I understand. Or the more I feel like I skipped rehearsal and the orchestra’s tuning up, you decide. I am deeply insecure! So in a fit of bubble-wrapped homework turning-in anxiety, I sent a box of jarred objets to Ninstrel Boy for sampling, critiquing and recipe-stomping, including a jar I’ve been meaning to mention.

Recent developments in food safety protocols seem to have sent recipe writers over the edge. If you can figure out what’s going on here you’re smarter than me. This includes the mysterious pronouncement:

It is acceptable to leave the seeds in the tomatoes. This is the only thing to do when you are canning the tomatoes whole. You can always remove the seeds later with a food mill when you are cooking with the tomatoes. Or, you can ignore the seeds and leave them in.

Dahhhhhlink, lay off the cooking sherry, I beg of you. No one’s getting any smarter over here. Over here, on the other hand, you can learn a lot if you don’t mind feeling like you’ve wandered into the Twin Peaks Test Kitchen. The most straightforward treatment I’ve seen so far comes from those irresistible homebodies at Well Preserved, including good photographs of their work. Then there’s this post, wherein the Well Preservers describe how some tomato canners are plumb crazy.

Oh look, an interminable musical interlude.

The eighties weren’t kind to a lot of people and hairstyles. That much seems certain. This past summer, I read everything I could find about jarring tomatoes, compared recipes, warnings and processing times and methods. Even I was bored! Then I did the simplest thing you can imagine, unless you thought I’d give up. That might have been pretty simple, you’re right. But about me, I thought the simple thoughts and did the simple things.

Heirloom tomatoes, sliced in half top to bottom. Laid out on a lined baking dish. Use foil or a Silpat or parchment, trust me.

Sprinkled lightly with olive oil and a smidge of salt.

Oven: 350 degrees until tomatoes start to soften.

Boil jars, heat lids.

Remove tomatoes from oven, put into big metal or ceramic bowl, cover for five minutes.

Slide tomatoes out of skins and into jars. Add 1 tbsp lemon juice to pint or 2 tsp to 8 oz jars.

Process for 35 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for 8 oz jars.

They taste like tomatoey sunshine. So I sent a jar of this to Minstrel Boy and, fingers crossed, he likes it and doesn’t grow a second head to argue with, though tomatoes seem to provide us with plenty to argue about.

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