Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Saga of Tomatoes

This past weekend was a total tomato blitz.  We started out with 180 pounds of tomatoes, 20 pounds of peppers, 20 pounds of onions, 10 pounds of jalapeno peppers, and 6 garlic bunches on Friday, and at the end of the day of Sunday, we had processed them all.  The big draw?   SALSA.  It started out innocently enough when David and I we made salsa last year and comments were made as to how "tame" the salsa was.  My response was "next year you get to help."  By the end of the day on Friday we had nine people here at Edgar's Acres willing and ready for the tomato processing production. 

On Friday Jim, Susan and I canned tomatoes under my able supervision.  Saturday was set aside for the Salsa.  The weather was perfect.  Sunny and dry so we were able to clean and cut everything outside, leaving the kitchen available for the actual processing. 

Starting out at 8:00 a.m. sharp on Saturday Susan made sure everyone was wearing sunscreen.  We wanted red tomatoes, not red food processors.
See the pretty tomatoes on the counter?  We did 48 pints. 
Pat got all of the knives sharpened for the chopping. 
Frank and John were given the assignment of chopping the jalapenos, some with the seeds left in, and some without.  Of course they put on the gloves to keep from burning their hands. 
We had a table of workers chopping tomatoes (about 60 pounds of them), and a table for the lovely Ms. Pat chopping onions.  (I did do the garlic.)
In about 90 minutes everything had been chopped and I started putting together the vegetables for individual batches of Salsa.
This first batch is mild.  We made mild, medium, chipolte, hot and x-medium.
Judi was the official Salsa cooker before we put them in the jars for processing. 
John and Frank grilled a batch of jalapenos for the chipolte Salsa.  Steve is supervising.

The house smelled heavenly of Salsa.  We were done by 4:00 and geared up for David's Retirement BBQ, and what a feast it was.  David grilled his famous shrimp, Jim did baby back ribs, and we had Mom's potato salad, baked beans, garlic bread, berry pie and brownies.  We were hungry and ready to celebrate after a day of good hard work.

Sunday morning around 7:00 a.m. I came tripping out to the kitchen for a cup of coffee to be greeted by Jim and Steve looking to get started on tomato sauce.  The real draw was using the Squeezo.  To be honest they weren't making a lot of points with me, but they were so ready to get started, and started they did. 
I told them to clean and quarter the tomatoes thinking I would get to finish my cup of coffee.  By 7:30, they were done and ready to run the Squeezo.  Fortunately for them, I had finished my cup of coffee.
I got them set up with the Squeezo and went for a second cup of coffee.
Edgar was with me on this early morning production. 
After a wonderful breakfast prepared by Judi and Pat, Steve and Frank set to filling jars of sauce for processing. 
Louie spent the weekend sleeping. 

Special thanks go to Susan and Steve for washing and washing dishes.  David was able to give them a break once in a while as was Pat, but it was primarily those two who spent three days doing dishes.

In total we put up 144 pints of tomatoes, salsa and sauce in three days, and we were all friends and talking to each other when the job was done.  Suffice it to say we have now started another tradition. 

It was a wonderful weekend, and it would have been perfect if Rachel had been able to join us.  Rachel, plan on it for next year for Labor Day weekend. 

Good friends, good weather, good food and lots of tomatoes make for good times.



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