I feel like a broken record sometimes but there are kitchen projects that terrify me for years, then I finally embark on and find myself stepping back thinking, “that’s it?” Granola and yogurt are two that immediately come to my head. But this time I was finally ready to try making mustard. Last year I made tomato jam for the first time and it changed my life. Seriously. I don’t know that I could ever go back to boring old ketchup again. What if all homemade condiments were like that? Mustard, mayo (still working on that one), hot sauce…
I know, I’ve been MIA for a bit. I’ve been up to my elbows in tomatoes, literally. September is looking like a pretty hectic month and I needed to make sure I got my tomato canning in. With the next three weekends booked, last Saturday seemed like my only option so I headed down to the Fort Greene Greenmarket and my favorite farm, Wilklow Orchards, to pick up 50 pounds. Where they sat, all weekend while we visited family in Jersey. Part of me hoped we’d return to find them magically transformed into chopped and sauced tomatoes, but alas, these weren’t the self canning variety. Instead, I’ve spent the past three nights canning. Coming home around 5pm, and peeling, cutting and canning until near midnight each evening.
It’s the peeling that really gets me, a step required for chopped or whole tomatoes. For marinara sauce, you can leave them unpeeled and push everything through a food mill before cooking it down to a thicker sauce. Though if you’ve ever messed around with a food mill in tomatoes, it’s not the easiest or cleanest job. I feel like I loose half my tomatoes with the skin and end up with a fraction of the yield promised. BUT this year I discovered the secret to easy sauce, higher yield and less skin problems.
Usually when I make a make a new recipe it takes me several days to publish it. There are of course exceptions. For holidays I like to get a recipe up a few days before the date, so people looking to round out their holiday menu can actually reference it, rather than pinning and forgetting about it for the following year. And then there are recipes that are so absolutely amazing that I can’t wait to share! This plum sauce is one of them.
Sorry, it took me a while to get this one up. Our Greenmarkets are still abundant with the last tomatoes of the season. As a bonus, they’re pretty cheap. Sure, some aren’t the prettiest, maybe a little bruised, but still tasty and perfect for sauce. Earlier this summer I put up chopped tomatoes. I probably should have just stuck with those. A few weekends ago I bought another two half bushel baskets of tomatoes from the Fort Greene Greenmarket with intentions of making sauce. I was excited because the sauce involved no peeling, rather I would cook the tomatoes down, then push them through my food mill to remove the skin. You could seed them as well in the beginning, but I have nothing against seeds. So what I thought might be less work turned out to be a lot messier and took a long time.
So I might have lied about making one new homemade food that people generally buy to celebrate October Unprocessed. I’ve made applesauce before. In fact, I’ve made it a lot, for the past three years, at least a dozen quarts a year. And here I am, making it again. Even though it’s not new to me, I figured it might be new to some people. When I said boozy cranberries was the perfect canning starter recipe, I was wrong. Applesauce is the absolute easiest thing to make. So little effort and so good. I swear once you make your own applesauce, you’ll never go back.