Monday, June 18, 2012

The Ranch Kitchen's Stewed Tomatoes

One of our very favorite parts of summer here at our place is when the tomatoes from our garden are in season.  Each year we anxiously wait on the first bush to ripen.  This year we got an earlier start than usual with the unseasonably mild winter here in Texas.  With the added ease of our greenhouse where my husband started our seeds early, we've enjoyed tomatoes since the middle of May. 

Each year when I finally have at least three trays or cookie sheets full of tomatoes, I blanch and freeze them to use in the winter for stewed tomatoes.  Stewed tomatoes equal your grocery store variety of diced tomatoes with onions, green peppers, and spices.  They can be used in a variety of ways, including stews, beans, tomato sauces, goulashes, and my families favorite stewed tomatoes. 

Not wanting to wait the other night until winter to enjoy our tomatoes and in too big of a hurry to blanch my tomatoes to get their skins off, I used a sharp knife to skin them.  I cored each end of around seven tomatoes and then closely skinned their outer skin off trying my best to take away as little of the juicy flesh as possible.  I cooked these with a tad of water, one onion chopped, bell and chili peppers, along with garlic salt, and black pepper to taste.  After around ten to fifteen minutes of a low simmer, the stewed tomatoes were ready to top my cornbread and purple hull peas.

To me this is the ultimate of southern cooking.  Although canned varieties are good, my frozen and fresh stewed tomatoes far exceed them in taste and price!  And honestly there are few things that smell as good as they do simmering on my stove.

Give stewed tomatoes a try this summer.  Local farmers market are brimming with farm fresh tomatoes that are just beginning to get that acidic taste most people associate a summer tomato with. 


Veggies lined up on my bar ready to cook or freeze!

The Ranch Kitchen's Stewed Tomatoes

6 - 8 medium sized tomatoes. cored and skins removed
1 onion, sliced
1/4 of a green pepper, cubed (optional) or you can use banana pepper or any sweet pepper variety
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

In a sauce pan add 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil.  Add onion green pepper and tomatoes.  Stir.  Add garlic salt and black pepper.  Bring to a boil and allow to cook 1 minute.  Turn down to a low simmer and cook ten to fifteen minutes more.

Serve over cornbread, peas, Lima beans, fresh green beans, or as a base for soups and stews.

To freeze tomatoes:  Core tomatoes on both end and slice an x on the top and bottom.  This will allow the skins to release easily once cooled.  Place in large pots of water and bring to a boil.  Allow to boil for 1 minutes and turn off gas or electric stove top.  Tomatoes will need to cool in the water.  When the tomato skins begin to release and are cool enough to handle, gently spoon tomatoes into a colander that is sitting on top of a large bowl.  Remove all skin from each tomato.  Throw skins away.  Place tomatoes in large Ziplock freezer bags.  Pour liquid from the bowl beneath the colander into the freezer bags.  Seal bags removing as much air as possible.  Lay on a flat cookie sheet and freeze in your freezer.  Label with your month and year for future reference.  When tomatoes are frozen lay on freezer shelf.  Will keep up to six months in the freezer. 

When cooking, thaw and cook as above detailed recipe or add to beans or stews. 

It's so nice to know you grew what goes on your table.


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