Putting Up Tomatoes
When I was really young my mom would spend hours every August blanching, peeling, de-seeding and then canning mountains of tomatoes in our oh-so humid Missouri home. Her unruly curly hair would be pinned back with multiple bobby pins as she carefully lowered the tomatoes into the massive black tin stock pot water with the Ball canning jar insert. Not sure what happened, but after a few years she stopped canning and started just putting whole tomatoes in panty hose in the freezer. Each tomato was knotted off from the other, sausage link style, to apparently prevent bruising. It was always a little alarming to open the freezer to see the frozen red globes bound by old pairs of L’eggs pantyhose, but it worked for her. In 1994 I got Marcella Hazan’s, Essentials of Italian Cooking and started making her to-die-for classic sauce Tomato Sauce and Onion and Butter in batches to freeze. After one mid-winter visit where we served my mom the sauce three different ways: over pasta, as tomato soup and the base for our grilled pizzas, she never went back to her old ways of preserving tomatoes.
I generally have two ways I put up tomatoes for the winter: whole cherry tomatoes and pureed sauce. I don’t believe in taking the skin off or de-seeding, as I think it adds to the overall flavor.