Plant, grow, harvest, preserve and enjoy these treasures all year long.
First in our “Farmer Crawl” Series.
At Change magazine, we support the local food movement and our local farmers. So we decided to create our “Farmer Crawl” series to introduce you to some local farmers and, perhaps, get you excited about digging in to your own dirt.
Family farms come in all shapes and sizes. From small backyard gardeners like me, to the semi-serious with lots of acreage—like Farmer Joe—whom you’ll meet in our July issue.
I’ve had a vegetable garden in my backyard for as long as I’ve had a backyard. I love fall and winter vegetables, when my garden is filled with lettuce varieties and lots of nutritious green leafy goodies like kale, chard, parsley and more.
But in the summer, tomatoes rule in my garden! There is nothing better than a homegrown, fresh picked tomato. Pair with a shaker of sea salt, and you have the perfect summer snack.
In June, the local tomato crop is booming. So, this is the perfect time to preserve tomatoes for the months ahead, when fresh tomatoes are out of season. It’s really simple to make your own salsa, marinara sauce and other delights. If you don’t have your own tomato garden, you can purchase organic, homegrown tomatoes at the Nassau Bay Farmers Market every Saturday from 10am-2pm (hosted by Erma’s Nutrition Center—www.ErmasNutritionCenter.com). Plan to get there early, there’s a big demand for these sweet and juicy beauties and they go quickly! And by July, the season will be over.
Here’s my recipe for the best marinara sauce you’ve ever tasted. You can substitute any of these ingredients (except the tomatoes, of course!) to personalize.
It all starts here, with tomatoes growing in my backyard garden. The biggest threat to a healthy crop is birds (especially Mockingbirds) and stink bugs.
Allow tomatoes to ripen indoors on a window ledge near bright sunlight. Bright red, heavy tomatoes make the best sauces.
No fancy equipment is necessary for home preserving. Use a large pan, fill with water and bring to a boil. Add tomatoes, turn off heat, cover, and allow them to sit for a few minutes—until the skin splits for easy peeling. At this point, you can make your own canned whole tomatoes. Remove the skin and tough part around the stem. For salsa and sauces, cut them into quarters and process in batches in food processor to liquefy.
Basil, oregano, green peppers—all are summer crops and make tomato sauce sing with flavor.
Chop and sauté lots of onions in unrefined, organic olive oil.
Mix everything together in a large crock-pot and cook on low for 8-10 hours, minimum. Add extra olive oil if you prefer, plus sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
All you need are glass canning jars in various sizes. Boil the jars and lids to sterilize them. Drain and cool.
Fill each jar with tomato mixture to about ¼ inch from the top. Screw the lids on snugly, not too tight. Return the filled jars to the pan of boiling water in batches, so that the jars are completely covered. Process them for about 45 minutes.
Lift the jars out of the water with tongs and let them cool without touching or bumping them. Once the jars have cooled, check that they are properly sealed. Just press down in the center. It should not pop up or make a popping sound. If it does, it’s not properly sealed and you should refrigerate and use that sauce immediately.
Most, or all, jars should be sealed properly and can be stored in a pantry or cabinet for enjoyment over the fall and winter months.