Autumn is a festive time here at Rabbit Hill. My dining room table is decorated with trays of elongated yellow and red striped Blush tomatoes, “heavy-in-the-hips”, blood red Goldman’s Italian American tomatoes, and plump processing tomatoes.
Blue-green Hubbard squash, creamy yellow and green striped delicata and tan long-necked butternut squash are hardening in the greenhouse.
And APPLES, (with the unwelcome guests of fruit flies), are everywhere.
Fruit of all sizes and shapes litter the kitchen table, while bowls of known apple varieties line the counter, sitting on printed pages of the particular variety’s history and description, courtesy of the crew at Out-on-A-Limb (http://www.outonalimbapples.com/varieties)
Since our small family can’t begin to enjoy all this abundance of food at one time, I do a lot of food processing; roasting tomatoes for sauce, cooking and freezing pumpkin, pureeing over-ripe peaches, and preparing batches of applesauce.
Preserving the harvest, putting food by, and food processing are all interrelated terms and techniques for transforming a bounty or surplus of fruits and vegetables into a more shelf-stable state. Because the shelf-life of freshly harvested fruit starts to decline immediately after it becomes perfectly ripe, you need to eat this delicious fruit or vegetable right up, or food process it into another state.
I’ve found that the handiest and most useful piece of equipment in the food-processing kitchen is my mother’s Foley Food Mill.
A food mill, also known as a purée sieve or moulinette, consists of just three parts: a bowl, a bottom plate with holes like those in a colander, and a crank fitted with a bent metal blade which crushes the food and forces it through the holes in the bottom plate as the crank is turned.
My mother’s Foley food mill dates to the 1950’s, and is made from aluminum. Newer versions are manufactured from stainless steel to prevent corrosion from acidic foods. Introduced as an “ingenious device” by the Foley Manufacturing Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota in the 1920’s to “ busy homemakers”, the Foley food mill does it all: straining, mashing and pureeing, all without the labor of peeling.
ROASTED TOMATO SAUCE
- 3-4 pounds ripe tomatoes
- Olive oil for coating
- Sea salt & fresh pepper
- chopped fresh herbs ( like basil, tarragon, thyme, parsley)
- Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a heavy baking pan or dish that will fit a single layer of the tomatoes comfortably.
- Wash and dry the tomatoes. Fit a single layer of tomatoes into the greased pan and drizzle with olive oil. Coat the tomatoes well and roast for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and shake the pan to loosen and turn the tomatoes. Return the pan to the oven and continue to roast, shaking occasionally, until the skins have split. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle the tomatoes.
- Using a spatula, scape all the roasted tomato goodness off the pan. Run the mixture thru your Foley Food Mill. Season to the sauce to taste with sea salt, and fresh pepper
FRESH MAINE APPLESAUCE
- 3- 4 pounds apples
- ¼ cup water
To make the Apple Sauce
- Gather ingredients and supplies. Wash and scrub the apples, trimming off any blemishes and scabs.
- Cut apples in half to check for infestation.
- Add the apples to a heavy non-reactive pot. Add the water to keep the apples from sticking. Cover the pot and cook until the apples are quite soft, adding more water if necessary.
- Press the cooked apples through a Foley Food Mill.
- Puree until you've reached your desired consistancy.
- Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.
Can the applesauce:
- The applesauce may also be canned for pantry storage. 1-½ pounds of apples yields about 1 pint of applesauce
- Spoon the sauce into jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Run a knife through the jarred sauce to remove air bubbles. Tighten lids. Process in a boiling water bath, 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts.