Poor Tomato Harvest or Great Salsa?

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This has been a really strange year on the farm. We’ve seen many extremes from the weather, crops and development of the farm overall. At times we’ve been enthralled (our lettuce was amazing!) and at other times we’ve been left scratching our heads trying to figure out what to do next. But in all, the biggest lesson for me has been “it’s all in how you look at it.”

For example, in January we were all excited about opening a new plot to expand our market produce. We did so well with tomatoes last year we thought we’d dedicate the whole plot to tomatoes and tomatillos. We tilled it on the contour and inter-planted with cover crops. Wow, it was all going so great! Then the early spring crop of peas and squash didn’t go so well. As a matter of fact the cover crops didn’t grow very well either………hmmmm. But you know tomatoes like well-drained soil, right? Well, by the end of July, 300 tomatoes and 100 tomatillos were sitting there doing nothing. And a silly gofer was eating at the rate of about one plant per night.

Luckily we’d also planted tomatoes in our main plot that had three years of previous soil development, and they looked beautiful…until the rain, heat and humidity hit. At this point I wasn’t as excited about tomatoes as I was in January. They were split and ugly, not really marketable, but they tasted good. Hmmmmmmmmm. At this point we could give up, right?

Dunt…dadadadaaaaaaaa. Drumroll please for the Salsa! We’ve learned on the farm to use everything we have, regardless of marketability. Salsa doesn’t care what the tomatoes look like. And the way we go through chips…trust me it won’t go to waste. So we turned bad tomatoes to great salsa and shared with our friends. It felt like January all over again.

So here’s the result of the poor tomato harvest. If you’re having the same experience, enjoy this recipe and dream of January and a fresh start.


Tomato Salsa

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Yields 10 pints

6 quarts or 24 cups of ripe tomatoes (you can use a few green tomatoes too just do not put them through the scalding stage. Cut them like the peppers to give texture. If you have a bunch save them for chow chow)

2 large sweet yellow onion

3 large colorful Bell peppers

1 whole globe of garlic

6 large jalapeño peppers

1 large extremely hot red pepper

1 cup lime juice

3 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp black pepper

2 Tbsp Coriander seed powder

Prep: Start a pot boiling with a large sieve on the stove, wash all vegetables with clear water, set all aside but the tomatoes. Cut the stem end and any blemishes from the tomatoes, remove seeds from peppers (I left the seeds of one jalapeno pepper for heat). Rough chop the vegetables except the tomatoes and pulse in a food processor. Put in a large stockpot. When the water is boiling, scald tomatoes a few at a time for about one minute and set aside in a bowl to cool. As they cool remove skins and place in separate stockpot. The skins should just pop off as you squeeze the fruit. If not, you need to scald a little longer. Watch your fingers, they are hot. Blend with an emulsifier and add to other vegetables, or for chunky, add straight to other vegetables without emulsifying.

Canning: Add other ingredients, bring to boil stirring constantly. Pour into sterilized jars leaving 1/4 “ headroom, clean around rim with clean damp cloth, add lid and ring finger tight, place in boiling water bath for 5 minutes then remove and cool on a towel with air space in between jars. Process 10 minutes if your jars are not sterilized.

 

 

 

 

 

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Poor Tomato Harvest or Great Salsa?

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