The only, and I mean only, tomato I grow is the cherry tomato. To be more specific, I only grow heirloom sweet 100's. They are the only kind of tomato I actually like, and to be more direct, I really only like them fresh direct from the vine when they are super red, and super sweet! However, the vines produce so many that I simply cannot eat them all fresh!
These sweet 100 cherry tomatoes are called indeterminate tomatoes. This means they take a little longer to start providing the fruit, but once they do, well, they simply don't stop! In fact, I had heard of so many people complaining that they just don't know what to do with all of them that I wrote a post called "Save All Those Cherry Tomatoes" for a list of ways to make sure that no surplus goes to waste. Even my over ripe cherry tomatoes that have split are a delicious treat for my hens!
Though I dry some, eat some fresh, and save a few to add to my favorite Cucumber Salad Recipe, I actually choose freeze the majority of them! Why? Well, to make my favorite Super Simple Fresh Cherry Tomato Sauce with (you can watch a video of how it's made if you check out that link)! And boy is it simple :-)
How I Freeze Cherry Tomatoes:
I simply continue to add cherry tomatoes to the same bag as they ripen and until the bag full. I write the date on the bag when it is filled and then I move it from the kitchen freezer to the basement freezer. This just assures that I use them in date order during the winter. Simple!
Here's my super simple recipe:
NOTE: I use my frozen cherry tomatoes during the winter instead of the fresh. When blending the frozen tomatoes I simply and add some water so they blend better (Yes, I blend them frozen. No need to defrost so no planning is necessary!). This just means that the sauce has to be cooked a little longer, but believe me, it is just as delicious and it allows us to enjoy my fresh cooked cherry tomato sauce all winter long! YUM!
Check our our other ways to
preserve and save fresh fruits and vegetables
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I seriously can't believe I am saying this: "I love my cast iron skillet." I really do, and believe me,I never thought I would ever even consider using cast iron!
Using cast iron was really sort of an accident for me. Cast iron is a pan that I have never even attempted to cook with. In fact, my go to pots and pans have always been stainless steel. But if you have ever had to sit and scrub and scrub and scrub to get a pan clean then you know what I mean when I say stainless can be a real pain in the $%#. I have also been through multiple skillets coated with teflon. I say multiple because never has a skillet lasted more than a year in my house before the teflon started to come off. Thats how often we use the skillet! More recently we were buying and using Green pans. They have a ceramic coating that is much healthier than using teflon and they did last a little longer. The big downside however was the price. Not cheap by any means and still needed to be replaced after a lot of use.
Cast iron was never an option for me. I didn't even consider it because I always thought it was cheap, horrible to cook on, and even more horrible to clean. I imagined needing to literally scrape eggs off the bottom of the pan and never really getting it clean....ever. So imagine my surprise when my daughter and future son-in-law cooked a meal for 8 people using ALL cast iron pans and I volunteered (unknowingly) to do the dishes! As soon as I saw what I had volunteered to wash I groaned and did my best to go at it with a smile on my face....only to find out how easy they all were to clean!! In fact, they were easier to clean than the Green pans I had at home which were supposed to be non-stick! After the simplicity of cleaning those cast iron pans that night, and eating amazing food that was perfectly cooked in them, I was 'sold' on how awesome cast iron can be!
I immediately purchased my first cast iron skillet and I have never looked back! I absolutely love cooking in the pan and am able to cook certain foods like steak and chicken indoors better than ever! I have since added more cast iron pans to my list of must have's for the future.
Here is a simple list of why I love my cast iron skillet so much:
Some of the cons:
Even the 'cons' aren't so bad!
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Growing onions is so simple. I kind of cheat by buying packages of 'seed' onions. These are tiny little onions you can just stick in the ground and they simply grow into bigger onions. Really super simple! I ended up with quite a few nice yellow onions this year despite the heat so I am quite happy, especially because last years crop completely died.
Anyway, the onions were recently ready so I went out and carefully removed them so the greens remained in-tact. Now they are ready for braiding! I look forward to eating them all winter long!
NOTE: we also harvested all our shallots and braided them for the winter too! I just love all the fresh onions, shallots and garlic! Check out the garlic post here!
If you have never tried growing your own onions, or shallots definitely give them a try in the spring next year!
For garlic it's actually time to plant them right now!
Check out planting garlic here.
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I absolutely love cherry tomatoes. In fact, they are the ONLY tomato we grow! We do not eat a lot of pasta here so tomato sauce is not rarely used, but we do eat ALOT of summer salads and cherry tomatoes go perfect in them! But seriously, we are just two people and we can't eat enough of the cherry tomatoes to keep up! Even with sharing with neighbors and feeding them to the chickens, there are just so many more! So I got to thinking - What else can I do with them? I know I can freeze them, but that's just too boring to me since they can't be eaten in a salad after being frozen so I would rather just sun-dry them and then freeze them like I've already been doing. No, I really want to try something completely different with my excess cherry tomatoes, so of course I RESEARCHED all the possibilities on Google - after all it is one of the things I am really good at - and here are a few of my favorite ideas:
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It's that time of summer when the Long Island corn is fresh and ready at the local farm stands! There is nothing better than fresh, locally grown sweet, delicious corn! Yum! Do you wish you could eat it all year long? You can if you freeze it. It may not be as good as it is when it was just picked, but it will still be way better than canned or imported corn! And guess what the best part is: it's so simple! So stock up right now while the corn is fresh! Eat all you can and freeze the rest so you can have the best, locally grown healthy sweet delicious corn any time you want all year long. It's that simple!
See how easy it is to freeze corn?
And nothing gets wasted!
So simple :-)
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Do you grow your own tomatoes? If you do, and if you are like me, then you have a lot of extras. After sharing my extras with friends and family and even giving some to the chickens every day I still had so many more to go...and more growing every day. I was trying to think of something different to do with them so I thought why not homemade sun-dried tomatoes?
I started doing a little research and discovered that most 'sun-dried' tomatoes aren't really sun dried anymore, they are dehydrated or cooked in an oven. Since my goal is always to do things in simple ways using as few resources as possible I was determined to really, truly, make real sun dried tomatoes. And I did! It was so simple and so successful that I have made many more batches since then!
After drying them, which generally takes a minimum of 2 full-sun days (depending upon the humidity of course), I freeze them instead of just storing them dry because they last longer in the freezer and I don't need to check them regularly for any mold growth. Mold growth can occur if any of the tomatoes are not 100% dry. Any little bit of moisture left over can start growing mold, so since we live in a humid environment and I have a freezer I decided it was just easier and safer to keep them there.
When we are ready to use them for cooking all we do is boil some water, cover them with the hot boiled water and let them sit for 15 - 20 minutes. This rehydrates them so they can simply be added to any dish we choose!
The best part is they cost me practically nothing, they are organic (because they were grown in my own garden), they retain all the wonderful nutrients of fresh tomatoes, and they can be enjoyed all winter long when I have no fresh garden to pick from!
Check out my You Tube video below to see how I made them:
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It's been about a month since we harvested the garlic scapes, and ate them, and that means it's now time to harvest the actual garlic and store it until we are ready to use it!
And of course, after planting, maintaining, and harvesting garlic from start to finish, for the first time I might add, I can only wonder why more people don't do it too!
Here's how simple it was:
Just an end note:
I had basically been told that braiding hardneck garlic was not possible and so I initially planned on using pantyhose to try and store it (this is what I stated in my post about planting the garlic in the fall), but I decided to try braiding it anyway. This was my first time braiding any garlic and I have to say I am very happy with the results! They are not so much braided but more like 'twisted' together so that they all stay in place when held together with a tie. However they look braided, and whatever and however I did it, well, it worked! Now I just need to hang them in a dry, cool location until needed! We are set for the winter :-)
Here are our other posts about planting and harvesting these garlic bulbs we just harvested:
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We started pulling our carrots this past weekend and I have to say that it is a really great feeling to know that you can grow your own food. Carrots are probably my second favorite vegetable to grow because they are so easy. Other than preparing the soil by making sure it is loose to about a foot or more down, we literally just plant seeds and forget about them until the fall. How simple is that?
This past weekend we pulled about 3.5 pounds of carrots out. After washing and chopping them up we were left with about 3 pounds to blanch and store in the freezer. Next weekend we will pull more, and probably the weekend after that as well. Boy do I love having my own garden, even if it is small :-)
Here's our very simple method to freezing them for the winter:
Freezing carrots is that simple!
FYI - To make blanching simpler, we use the Granite Ware Blancher (affiliate link) below. It comes with the pot, the lid, and the basket which makes it so simple to quickly remove vegetables! Of course this is not necessary, however it does make it so much easier!
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Check out more posts about Fresh Food Preservation!
Hi there! I'm Kathie, the author behind Creating A Simpler Life blog. I'm excited to share our longterm projects (and planning) toward building our future retirement homestead in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. In the meantime I will be sharing all the other little things we do that are part of creating our simpler life!