Monday 29 August 2016

Singed tomatoes, and wood piles......

Should you have popped round for quick visit yesterday at five o'clock in the morning, this is what you would have found me doing......

...... holding a fork with a tomato impaled upon it,
which was being singed in the flame so the skin could be easily removed.
It took a few seconds, that's all, and is much faster than the other method I have tried,
which is to bring a pan of water to boil, plunge some tomatoes in it,
rescue them after a moment or so, then plunge them into cold water to cool down,
after which the skins can be removed.
I don't get on with this method of skinning tomatoes,
finding it difficult to get the timing right for each tomato,
so that I tend to end up with a portion of over cooked mushy tomatoes,
which is a waste.
It was this pile of tomatoes which I was needing to sort out,

..... lots of elongated Amish Paste tomatoes, lots of little round ones, and a few bigger round ones.
It was the Amish Paste which I was going to skin.

Not looking forward to this season's tomato harvest because of the skinning process,
I had been putting off starting the job,
but the onset of ripeness pushed me into a search on the internet for alternative methods of getting the skins off the tomatoes, and I found this gas flame one.
Thought I would have a try.
It worked.
Put a fork in to the top end of the tomato,
hold the tomato in the flame with the bottom end presented to the flame,
Hold for a second or so, then turn the tomato on its side and start  slowly rotating it.
There will be a pop as the skin breaks, and there might be a sizzling sound, which let you know that the job is nearly done. It does not take long.  
Then put those tomatoes on a plate to cool down,
then on to the next.
Working on two tomatoes at a time, (separate forks of course!), I whizzed through the tomatoes quickly, had no waste because the time in the flame for each tomato could be varied with its size,
and I did not get soaked, which was something I tended to do when using the boiling water method.
Then on to skinning, coring, chopping, cooking, and preserving.
Twenty minutes at 10lb pressure in my All American Canner,
and job done, giving us seven more jars for the larder,
making seventeen jars of chopped tomatoes in total.
(9 tomato, celery, and onion, 8 tomato, courgette, and onion
in 0.7 litre jars)
This is my first year of canning tomatoes.
Did wonder if it was worth the effort when tins of tomatoes don't cost much to buy from the shops,
but the first taste of our own processed tomatoes forever changed my mind.
So, is it worth the work?
So what to you do when you feel like coming to a full stop mid way through a food prepping session,
when the road feels long, and you would like to be anywhere else except here.
When a bar of chocolate feels vital to have, when a cup of cocoa will not substitute.
So what you do is down tools, and go lie down on the bed for a quick nap,
after which the energies will surge up again, hopefully, and the pace of food prepping will begin again. If it doesn't, then there is always tomorrow.
I blame the hot weather, which makes me slothful.
But it is cooler today, which got me off to a good start. Mid morning I felt the urge to sit down for a minute though. Two hours later I woke up. Lunch was late. Another quick nap afterwards, and oh dear, another nap late afternoon. Must be the hot weather catching up with me. As I say, the temperatures have been silly.....mid 30's....
Lester, though, manages the heat quite well, possibly because he was born and raised in South Africa,
so he has been plodding on with the gathering, sawing, chopping and stacking of the wood .......
.... and a pause to give the cows a morsel of greenery,

..... and our homestead, with the field waiting for the rains to green it up again...

And back at the house, the wood pile is growing....

...... and this pile still waits to be chopped and stacked...

Like me and the tomatoes, this is his first year of getting the wood pile done.
I think I have the easier task.
Standing over a hot stove making jam, canning tomatoes and other veg, and doing all the other smallholdery wife stuff does seem an easier task.
I don't think I could even lift the axe  off the ground, let alone swing it up in the air and over my head, hoping to aim for the chunk of upended wood to split it in two.
Saying bye for now,


rusty duck said...

Has Lester looked at log splitters? Not nearly as expensive as I'd envisaged and so so easy. Even I could do it and that's saying something.

Janice said...

My goodness you have both been working so hard! Have you ever considered buying one of these?
I've read about other bloggers using them and they seem to do a really good job if you want to make tomato sauce.
This is also a great blog about a couple homesteading, off grid, in the USA. It is mind boggling how much canning and preserving she does, and she's a senior citizen! You might want to check it out.

Le Pré de la Forge said...

Don't axe... wedge and maul!!
I use a "grenade" style splitting wedge and a 15lb Maul...
followed by a Merlin [a splitting hammer] for the final sizes...
For the really large bits, Pauline uses her "ski machine"... a ten-tonne, hand-operated, hydraulic splitter!
An axe is much too thin to split wood and it is extremely tiring as a result.
Use the axe for kindling, yes... you need the control.

Unknown said...

I use the hot water method for tomatoes simply because I can do a few kg at a time. Does the scorching bring out the flavour? I use an Australian preserver which works a treat for tomatoes and basil but I just lost 20kg of mangoes which took me a day to do. I suspect I should have added water to the juice pulp. The lids popped :( it seems that your place has dried off pretty quickly. Any news on the chook run? I'm following that with interest as I love poultry.

Cro Magnon said...

My Tomatoes get processed complete with their skins. I do litre bottles of just plain Tomato which later become Tomato soup; these I pass through a sieve, when being used, to take out the skins. All the others are consumed skins-n-all.

My chainsaw comes out today or tomorrow. Make logs while the sun shines.

Dawn said...

I only had a small quantity of tomatoes to do, think I would had lost to will to live with all those you had, I find moving outside to process made the job more pleasant

Dawn said...

Also meant to say love the log pile such a a lot of work Lester has put in, Martin is logging all the time building up the stores for winter

Vera said...

JESSICA, log splitters are expensive to buy here in France, so we are holding off buying one for the moment. But there is something about seeing one's man hefting an axe!!!!!!

JANICE, thanks for the info, and will have a look at the sauce maker later. Would love to read the blog you mentioned.....we will never go off grid, but I am a senior citizen as well and always feel inspired by what others are doing who are in my age group!

LaPré DeLa Forge, I have passed on the info to Lester.....we shall get a log splitter eventually, but the info you gave him about 'wedging and mauling' might help him along meanwhile!

ANNE, I found that it was faster to singe the tomatoes, which does not affect the flavour as it is just the outside of the tomato that is being heated up, which lessens the tendency for the tomatoes to go pulpy.... something which seemed to happen a lot when using the hot water method, but that might just be me and the way I did it!
Sorry to hear about the mango disaster....I was worried about the tomatoes not having enough juice in the jars so I added some hot water to the jars before sealing them. Gosh, I do feel for you...after a day of working on preserving the fruit and then to lose it would have made me feel not a happy bunny!
As for the chickens........have some news which I shall post in a future blog!

CRO MAGNON, I was going to keep the skins on, but thought I wouldn't this time! I didn't put into jars any whole tomatoes, but will next year, and these I shall do with their skins on, as you do, ..... thanks for the suggestion.
Happy chain sawing!

DAWN, I did almost lose the will to live mid way through processing this lot, which is why I had a nap! And this was the second batch I had done! Moving outside to prep the veg has not been an option for me because of the chickens and geese poo everywhere, but next year we intend to remedy that situation..... and bless our men folk working on our wood piles!

Coco said...

Rather to my surprise, we have quite a few tomatoes, but until this week they´ve refused to turn red. Now I shall have to consider how to preserve them. It´s always something, isn´t it?

Well done to both of you!

Rhodesia said...

Hi Vera, you are so energetic, unless I am using huge tomatoes which are easy to skin I throw skins and all in. Everything is for our own use so what if we get a bit of skin as well. I only use them for sauces or ratatouille bottling so it makes little difference to us. I seldom make soup as I have enough of other kinds of soup that do not need skinning!!
Hope all is well, take care and have a good week. Diane

Rhodesia said...

PS Forgot to add that N splits wood with a hefty cold chisel and a heavy hammer, no problems to date!

Vera said...

COCO, our tomatoes cropped well this year, and are still doing so, but last year they didn't and I ended up with using them up as green tomatoes. Fried up, and they were delicious, in fact tastier than the ripe ones.

DIANE, singeing the tomatoes took no time at all, but the rest of the harvest of tomatoes I shall leave the skins on because I shall only be storing small quantities at any one time, which shall be used for soup.

Kev Alviti said...

Your amish paste look every different to mine! Mine are a dark green on top. Makes me wonder if mind were what they said on the packet. I need to double the amount I grow to can some!

Kerry said...

I've never seen tomatoes skinned like that before, thanks for the tip. I generally freeze mine with the skin on as I use them for pasta sauce, soup etc.

Vera said...

KEV, I have never seen green topped Amish Paste tomatoes, so perhaps yours are a special kind!

KERRY, it is such a fast way to skin tomatoes....yesterday I skinned a batch in the time it would have taken me to boil a pan of water if I was using the hot water method to skin them!