Sunday, October 4, 2009

Slice 'Em and Dice 'Em...But Then What?

Yesterday I hit the farmer's market. I had planned to purchase more pork and chicken from my favorite meat vendors, but Twin Oak Meats and TJ's Free-Range Poultry weren't there. (The other meat vendors who were, unfortunately, finish their cows on corn. No. No. No.) They're excused, though, because it was a crappy day--rain off and on, chilly, and overcast. Not many customers were there, either. I was feeling better (had a fever all day Friday from some unknown bug) and decided to brave the weather anyway.

So I bought some lovely peppers from Blue Schoolhouse Farm and some tomatoes to supplement my recent meager harvest. I bought the tomatoes from O'Rourke Family Farms, and they have some lovely Valencia tomatoes--the big orange ones in the picture. They are almost Beefsteak-like in their meatiness and juiciness, but a bit sweeter and maybe even less acidic. At least it seems so to my lay palate.

One of the things I love about the farmer's market is the friendliness and generosity of the farmers. Often you can get a deal without even asking for it! Buy enough, and they'll often throw in some slightly damaged or overripe goods that are still perfectly fine. In this case, Mr. O'Rourke (I'm making assumptions here) threw in some tomatoes that had spilled on the ground, keeping him from selling those to a customer. I wash my tomatoes anyway before processing, so it was no biggie to me. Thank you, O'Rourke Family Farms!

Now here's the problem: what do I make with all these tomatoes? I skinned and diced them this evening and put them in the refrigerator until tomorrow. I've ruled out salsa--I already have more than I can probably eat over the winter. The plum tomatoes I'm saving to add to others I harvest from my garden (no frost yet) or buy at farmer's market; I'll turn those into tomato paste. I don't use tomato paste very often at all, so I don't think I'll need a lot. The rest of the tomatoes will either become chili sauce (although again, I think I have more than I can eat), tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, or perhaps both. I do know I won't have many more tomatoes from the garden for a batch of anything, and there are few tomatoes at farmer's market since tomato season is essentially over.

But maybe I should turn the diced tomatoes into something else. Any suggestions? I'm new at this food preservation thing, so I'm open to advice from you more experienced gardeners.

Oh, and by the way, the 9-grain bread turned out really well. I love breadmakers!

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