How I Made Homegrown Crushed Tomatoes – And Will I Ever Do it Again?

We eat a lot of tomatoes in our family but very few of them fresh. Usually they take the form of canned crushed tomatoes or tomato paste (and, of course, ketchup).

Tomatoes are so easy to grow but I never grew many of them because processing them myself seemed so daunting.

Last week I was determined to take the plunge and make my own homegrown crushed tomatoes.

It was a 5 step process:

1. I planted, watered and picked the tomato plants over a period of 3 months (this was the least intimidating part)

2. I sliced off the stem part and cut an X into the bottom with a paring knife

3. I blanched them in boiling water for approximately 3 minutes, before lifting them into an ice bath with a slotted spoon.

4. When they were cool, it was extremely easy to peel off their skins. Then I had some impressive looking whole skinned tomatoes.

5. I ran them through the blender for 30 seconds.

Then I had crushed tomatoes – organic, super-duper-local and free of any packaging or transportation emissions.

They tasted great in the shashshuka I made – using homegrown zucchinis, peppers, garlic and eggs.

I felt like the Mediterranean farming queen!

Once the royal feast was completed, I asked myself the question: could I do this tomato processing thing on a bigger scale? For some reason, of all my food growing/processing/zero waste projects, this one has struck me as significant and worth investment.

It only took 15 minutes with 10 tomatoes, but that is only 1 large can. We go through 2-3 large cans a week. I’d have to get the family involved, like the Italians do on the their annual Tomato Day every summer. And that would involve learning safe canning practices – something I’ve never attempted.

I would also have to grow a lot more tomatoes! Maybe my whole yard would just be tomatoes, and that doesn’t fit with my diverse farming philosophy.

This is not simple. But I feel like I made progress towards a goal in my first tomato processing attempt!

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My name is Naomi and this is my tiny little farm in the heart of the rapidly growing city of Beit Shemesh, Israel. I enjoy growing, making and processing as much of my family's food and household essentials as possible, while nurturing a biodiverse ecosystem filled with beauty and life. 

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