Preserving Summer

After a beautifully-sunny summer, the mornings are now sometimes dawning crisp and cool and the farm is bustling with activity as we pick, pluck and harvest the summer garden vegetables and berries, plus the earliest pears and apples.

Once off vine and tree, this bounty makes its way to the farm kitchen, where we spend days and evenings crafting them into jams and preserves. In addition to berry and fruit preserves, our ‘jam sessions’, so to speak, include pickling vegetables such as cucumbers, cauliflower and onions, as well as crafting savory relishes from beets and corn. We also can many a fruit chutney (peach is a favorite) and whip up small batches of our Nonna Pat’s famous tomato sauce with vine-ripened tomatoes plucked fresh from the garden. (Another use for those beautiful summer tomatoes? The roast tomato ketchup recipe below!)

In all, we will stow over a thousand jars, sure to be beautiful reminders of glorious, sun-kissed summer during the cold winter months that will arrive all too soon.

Roast Tomato Ketchup

4½ pounds tomatoes
3 teaspoons sea salt
1 bunch fresh thyme, leaves stripped from stems
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon allspice berries
½ teaspoon whole cloves
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 cups cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 300°.

2. Cut the tomatoes in half and arrange cut-side up on a roasting pan. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the salt and all the thyme leaves and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Roast in the oven for 1½ hours.

3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion, and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes.

4. Put the allspice, clove and peppercorns in a spice grinder and grind to a powder. (You can also do this with a very sharp knife or by using a mortar and pestle.) Add spices to the onion and cook for 1 minute. Add the roasted tomatoes, sugar, mustard powder, vinegar and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to a steady low bowl and cook for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

5. Blend to a thick sauce using a food processor or handheld blender. Pour into sterilized bottles and seal. Ketchup will keep up to 1 year stored in a cool, dry place.

Recipes courtesy of Homegrown Harvest.

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