Canning Fail

Since I often write about what goes well in the kitchen, I felt I also should write when something doesn’t go well.

All summer long I’ve been waiting for the tomatoes to ripen. I planted several different kinds, with the main one being a Roma, which is supposed to be good for making purée. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been collecting the ripe ones, quartering them, and freezing them for later use.

Today I got out my tomato press, all excited to process the tomatoes as the plants have reached their production end.

First, the thawed ones were very watery. I drained the water and went to run them through the press. What came out was very watery as well, and I didn’t use the correct screen as many seeds where coming through too. Needless to say, it wasn’t working how I had envisioned. I went ahead and sent the second bag of thawed tomatoes through thinking, well thinking maybe it had been that bag of tomatoes. Of course I got the same result.

Since it was so watery, I thought maybe putting it through a fine mesh strainer might do it. Well, it did help, but was still not what I wanted. I decided to shift gears with what I had just processed and continued to strain them until what was left was of a consistency to work for chile after throwing in some jalapeños from the garden (my husband made a great chile with some nice heat).

With the first two bags not working as expected, I thought maybe I needed to change the screen on the press. The first was changed out to one with smaller holes. Using tomatoes that were just picked yesterday, I was hopeful the new screen and fresher tomatoes would do the trick. It was not to be.

The new screen did eliminate the seeds, but what was left was still a watery mess. Since it wasn’t what I expected, I just decided to call it a day. I figured there is always next year. It also hit me that I hadn’t fully done my homework in how to make purée, which isn’t how I usually operate. It was just so clear in my mind what the press would produce by just processing the tomatoes I guess I just hadn’t thought it wouldn’t work.

So, it will be back to the drawing board for next year. I have my homework for the winter. The planning will include the best tomatoes to grow and how to process them to make the best purée—I want it to use in making Papa Joe’s pasta sauce.

Live and learn, right?

At least we got a tasty chile made entirely with ingredients from our backyard.

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