There are, we decided, two types of food preservers. There are the artisanal cooks, who choose recipes that look tasty then collect the ingredients needed to create that particular recipe. They use the pretty green glass jars and labels and their preserves are always tasty and tastfully done. And then there are the homesteading, farming types, who take whatever is bursting from the gardens, whatever is falling from the neighbor’s trees, whatever is left over at the end of the market, bring it home, pile it in the basement and think “Now what?” while rummaging through the old canning books. They can be tempted by phrases like “it’s going to be thrown on the compost pile if you don’t take it,” and “I found that putting them up in simple syrup worked pretty well last year,” or “Have you tried roasting these yet?”
I rode home today loaded with twenty pounds of very ripe tomatoes—the box that no one would buy because they were so ripe and no one at the farm had time to process in the next twenty four hours. I resisted the tiny plums, but did my best to sell them to another woman who was picking up some peppers. Right now, the first round is steaming cheerfully in the canner, the second round is roasting in the oven, and the third round is de-stemmed and waiting to be sliced and arranged on trays. This winter, we will eat them is soups and on pizza and pasta, bringing back hot summer days. Now I just need to find something to do with the zucchini.
Gather a bag of paste tomatoes. Slice each in half and lay on a cookie sheet face down. Cover the tray. Place in a 350 degree oven. Roast until wilted and perhaps a bit charred. Slide into half pint jars, cap, and process for twenty five minutes in the steam canner.