Lots of work…….
There was cutting, coring, squeezing seeds out, etc, then cooking down some. This photo is the food milling part, which came after the first cooking down. It was supposed to separate the skins and seeds from the pulp, but being very new to food milling, I used a smaller-than-necessary grater cone and my “pulp” was “juice.” I was in a panic, figuring I’d spent all afternoon and 20 lbs of tomatoes to make homemade V-8. Wouldn’t be so bad, but I HATE vegetable juice. Never drink it.
But I cooked it down, which took FOREVER, and wound up with 10 cups of passable tomato sauce to go in my freezer.
When I use it, I will use some browned ground beef and additional onions, and I think it will be fine. I consider this a marginal success, but it was a LOT of work and time (my entire Sunday afternoon) and jarred spaghetti sauce is not that expensive. However, I know every single ingredient in this sauce, because I put it there. I (and the next door neighbor) grew the tomatoes myself and watered them through the drought. Husband and I hand picked them.
The thing is this: This was not practical or particularly thrifty (I paid for started tomato plants—several of them.) You can buy good spaghetti sauce in a slightly larger jar (my containers are two cups) for under $3. But what it is, is another learned skill to add to my every-growing list of survival skills. If times get really tough, I know how to turn tomatoes into spaghetti sauce. I haven’t done it yet, but I’m certain I could make handmade pasta from flour and eggs.
I’d rather make peach jam, which I did last weekend and will do again next weekend. It IS fairly practical and we enjoy eating it so much. We get the peaches from a local grower at a good price in season, and this time I will make some jam, but also freeze some slices for cereal and such in the winter. Fresh peaches will be soooo good in January (if they last that long!) The jam was appreciated as gifts last year, too, and I might do some of that again.
I also got tons of green beans from my garden this year, and many of them are blanched, cut and frozen for winter. I had a fantastic yield on those. Snap peas didn’t do worth a darn, but I did get fresh lettuce and radishes. I think I’ve lost my onions to the wire grass. Weeding is just not possible (for me) when it’s 100 degrees outside and it got away from me. My pumpkins were a complete bust. I grew great, beautiful pumpkin plants and they blossomed like crazy, but produced only one lonely pumpkin. These were the small pie pumpkins and I was going to cook, puree and freeze them for pie making like I did last year with some that I had bought. (I saved the seeds from the ones I liked best and planted them.) One pumpkin from at least a dozen plants and two dozen blossoms? I will need to do some research on that. They might need help pollinating as I did with my gourd plants a few years ago.
So the veggie garden was just “okay” this year and was difficult to maintain with the drought and us taking a couple of week-long vacations away. If we are going to do that again next year, I might not have a veggie garden. But I’ve learned a lot in the last two years and when we decide to give up traveling to the camper–sometime in the future–I’ll do it again. Or if we HAVE to resort to survival skills for whatever reason, of course, I’ve got this in my bag of tricks.
Addendum Aug 4: We found about 5 more itsy bitsy green pumpkins, so that was not the failure I thought. Since these plants were totally free, from last years pumpkin seeds, if I get 5 or 6 pumpkins, I’ll be tickled to death and it will be just enough for my freezer for pies, muffins, etc.. Woo hooo!