Count Broccula's veg-head ramblings

My home experiments with vegetarian cooking. Focused on seasonal produce with some vegan stuff thrown in for good measure. I may include random other food-related stuff as I please.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I took a tomato canning class on Saturday. We made two things and watched the instructor make a third. First, we canned tomatoes just plain with no seasoning. No salt, even. We simply peeled and quartered the tomatoes, chopped a few and cooked them down to make a sauce, and then packed the jars. It wasn't anything I hadn't read about in the Ball Blue Book, but it did give me a certain level of comfort with the process, so that alone was probably worth the time and money.

But the revelation was the second thing we made, tomato jam. Honestly, at first the idea kind of turned my stomach. But my stomach is never turned for long; as we prepped the ingredients, I started brainstorming things I could do with it. Soon, the instructor came by and someone else asked how to use the jam. She suggested using it on grilled meats or in place of ketchup. I had a different idea. That night, I popped open my little jar, sliced a baguette, and spread the slices with chevre. I then topped each with a dollop of the tomato jam. It was heavenly. Even my kid couldn't get enough.

Thirdly, she made a marinara while we watched. We sampled it, and it was so different than the jarred sauces in the grocery store. It was very thin and pale, but at the same time you could really taste the freshness of the tomatoes. I think I may make that as well. You can always doctor it up later with whatever else you want. She even said I could add a few olives or mushrooms without disrupting the acid levels in the sauce too much.

The upshot is that I do feel more comfortable, I did come away with some recipes I'll use, and I even have a new passion for tomato jam. At the end of class, she announced that there's another canning class at the end of August, this time focused on peaches. But I sort of feel confident with canning now, and if I choose to can peaches, I believe I can handle it.


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