Friday, August 23, 2013
Tomato Line Dancing
Years ago, my aunt and uncle gave me a bushel of vine ripened tomatoes. Those tomatoes were to be split between my brother's family and me. But they had a new baby girl and my dad's needs were on the front burner; they didn't have time to deal with the little red beauties. So. Me.
I decided to make tomato sauce and freeze it. No jars. No little freezer containers. I had none of that stuff and since it was likely none of it was coming my way, I settled on freezer bags, the pint variety. I made the sauce in batches. Not every tomato was exactly at it's peak and my pans were mid-sized. We could wait on some of that.
I cooked away. I cut the tomatoes into quarters, gently settled them into a cook-down, fished out the peelings, put them through a colander with cheese cloth to gather up the seeds, back into the pot. I didn't even put in salt. It was the purest, most sweet and succulent sauce ever. Vibrantly tomatoey.
While the sauce was still warm, but no longer hot, I gingerly filled the freezer bags and put them on the counter, letting them cool a little bit more before they were frozen. That's where the problems started.
The stuff moves. Like a dozen little red poltergeists. The heat creates enough energy in the bags that the sauce rolls. Imagine stacking your product on the counter, allowing it to cool over night, and then waking up the next morning and none of the baggies were in the same place. They rolled all over the place. A few of the bags opened up and spread tomato sauce all over the counter, all over the floor, on the stove (OK, that was me), and some of them broke open when I tried to put them in the freezer.
I wore a substantial amount of tomato sauce—my cheek, my arms, my pants, my t-shirt all had tell-tale patches of tomato.
The moral of the story: when you finish one step in the cooking process, let the food cool before you move onto the next. Patience is not only golden, it's probably sanity, not to mention—effectiveness.