When you live as far out in the country as we do, one of the ways of making sense of your surroundings is by learning the common names of plants. Redbud, white oak, pokeweed, mountain mint....
Tomato Frenzy: Peeling and Freezing
Here come the San Marzanos! Delicious and hearty-textured tomatoes like San Marzanos and Romas are perfect for storing and turning into sauce or paste. They're robust enough to add body and zing even after months in the freezer (or sealed in mason jars). To be honest, after our last marathon run of canning, Megan and I are feeling a little tuckered and have decided to share the laziest method of preserving: peeling them and freezing in gallon-size bags. Let's face it: not all of us are going to have the time or inclination to can this Summer. This takes a fraction of the time and effort. Our good friends Dean and Janice (both demon canners in their own right) have been using this super-easy method to cope with their tomato glut this year, and we whole-heartedly recommend it for those who:
-don't have the mentality or fortitude for canning
-have extra freezer space
-need to deal with an unmanagable influx of near-death fruits (i.e., those of you who perhaps initially planned to can but cannot find the hole in your schedule)
Extra bonus for those who are canning instead: if you are canning to put up large quantities of tomatoes, this peeling method will save you oodles of time hunched around a blanching pot.
How to Peel Massive Quantities of Tomatoes
Place tomatoes in a roasting pan or other large vessel in a single layer. Pour boiling water over them to cover. That's it. Wait until the pan cools down and the peels will slip right off. The only trick you need to remember for Roma and San Marzano-type tomatoes: find a wire rack or sheet pan that fits inside the roasting pan, place it over the tomatoes, and weight it down with something waterproof so that the tomatoes are submerged (for some reason, these types of tomatoes like to float even after being punctured like your favorite voodoo doll). If you are using a broiler pan, the top will work just fine if the water level is high enough... just be sure you have it in a place where it can sit undisturbed (moving shallow pans filled with hot liquid is pain waiting to happen).
After peeling, cut out blemishes and cores (for Romas and San Marzanos, just snip the stem-ends off), pack in gallon-size freezer bags, partially close the ziptops, squeeze out as much air as you can, and freeze flat for easier storage (if you do it right, the bags can sit in the freezer like books on a shelf).
Got any timesavers for those of us lucky enough to be inundated with Summer crops? Please share! We will continue our tomato coverage until we run out, so check back for more tips and recipes.