Labor Day Can-o-Rama

Every year around Labor Day I feel a sense of urgency about getting food into the pantry and the freezer for the winter. I never do as much preserving as I would like--we're so busy tending and harvesting all these vegetables, it's too bad it all needs to be preserved now too... But there's something about the start of September--and perhaps the mountains of vegetables in the barn--that prompts me to do some preserving. I decided this year I would get my critical chores done on Monday and spend the rest of the day doing just that. Usually, my solo canning adventures go something like this:
  1. I lug more food that I could ever possibly deal with into the kitchen.
  2. I decide to start 10 different things for very logical reasons ("I can puree tomatoes while the tomatillos roast, and put sauce in the canner while the eggplant is soaking, etc etc).
  3. About 5-6 hours into it, I realize that (a) I am not even half done and (b) there is no stopping until it's finished.
  4. By 2am I am setting my alarm to take little naps while the next round of jars is in the canner.
  5. The next day I am back to work in the field with the now-very-familiar "canning hangover".
This year, I invited some friends to both lighten the load and also to keep me from going overboard. We still kept the other essential components of canning intact (such as trashing the kitchen, and using every possible vessel and dish towel in the house) but we managed to process 100 lbs of tomatoes and tons of eggplant and finished by dinner! Here's a peek at what we did: Because of the bountiful eggplant year we are experiencing, I wanted to try curing eggplant in olive oil. So far the jar look amazing, but we haven't tried it yet. HERE is the recipe we (roughly) followed. We used red peppers, garlic, basil, and oregano in addition to the eggplant.
Oil-cured Eggplant with sweet peppers, garlic and herbs
Kitchen officially wrecked
Our main focus was on the tomatoes, and to save time we pureed them all with this handy device, a cheap knock-off of the Squeezo, which I hope to own one day... (dreams!)

You too can puree tomatoes in minutes with a $50 Farm and Fleet food mill!

Steamy canner full of tomato puree

Thanks Lee, Christine and Eva!  It was a productive day (we made tomatillo salsa too, not pictured).  Lee is our fabulous farm cook and is teaching a tomato canning class at Willy Street Coop on September 17.  Check it out!  
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