Our CSA farm hosts several fun events throughout the summer and fall. We made it to the tomato pick last summer, but in general we’ve neglected to attend these awesome events. This summer, we’ve been 2 for 3 (we skipped the pesto fest), and we’re looking forward to one more in October.
Aaron was out of town in mid-August for the corn boil, but our friend Lena and I went out. The corn boil is not a u-pick event; instead, it’s a large potluck where folks bring a dish, pick fresh corn, and eat a delicious meal together. We were encouraged to try the corn raw first, and it was delicious. I guess that’s what you get when you can pick your own organic corn directly from the stalk. I’ve eaten a few cobs that have come in our weekly share raw, also.
In September, the farm hosts several weekends of tomato u-pick; these are primarily roma tomatoes, though there are a variety of heirlooms also available. Last year, my mom was visiting when we went to this event, so we took her along. Then we had her help us learn how to can our bounty.
This year, we were looking forward to the opportunity to can tomatoes to use throughout the winter. I don’t eat tomato sauce, but we use diced tomatoes in a variety of dishes. We picked approximately 15 pounds this year, with the intention of canning them along with the tomatoes we’d received that week in our share. We’d already canned a few pints from an earlier share, too.
The canning process goes pretty quickly once you have a good system. We canned 9 pints of tomatoes the first day (the max we can put in our pressure canner). For day two (this was Labor Day weekend, so we had lots of time to work), we decided to branch out a little, and we made ketchup! You can see the cans from the first day to the left.
The ketchup gets cooked with a “spice bag”–we improvised with a flour sack. Those three bowls of tomatoes turned into 4 pints of ketchup! So far, we’ve only eaten the little bit that didn’t fill another jar. While this was definitely a tasty project, and we can now say that we’ve made our own ketchup, it was a pretty time consuming process. The ketchup gets boiled to reduce by half; when your yield is 4 pints, it takes a while to reduce!
Our canning efforts resulted in 20 pints of canned tomatoes (including the 3 jars from earlier in August) and 4 pints of ketchup. While we were at the farm, we also picked some basil that was left from the pesto fest in July. Now, when I say “some basil,” I mean 5 whole basil plants. We turned these into 6 batches of pesto, which are now in our freezer.