The Nesco Dream: Week #12 – 8/25/21

 In CSA Newsletter

The Nesco Dream

One of the amazing things about running a farm is having so much food at our fingertips to put up for winter!
There’s jam to make, hot sauce, spinach to process, pickles, kim chi, sauerkraut, corn to put up, peppers to freeze, pesto to put up, eggplant to roast, cauliflower to freeze, tomatoes to preserve, etc.

While we have loads of food, what we often lack is the time and energy to put up all this food.  Preserving food happens after dinner, after the kids are in bed, and right when what I really want to do is sit down and read a book or watch something. 

So when it comes to preserving, each year I’m always looking for the fastest, easiest way to do put up food. Can I preserve the broccoli without blanching it and it’ll still be okay for soup?  Can I just food process the basil and freeze it and make the actual pesto later in the winter?  I have my own little tricks and hacks that I play around with each year. I keep notes of how much I put up, how I put it up, and what I used so that I don’t waste time putting up food I won’t actually get to eating before the next season rolls around. 

Tomatoes are a crop that I am always playing with how to put it up. Some years I’ve made sauce and water bath canned the sauce. Other years I’ve blanched, skinned, and froze whole tomatoes. I’ve tried instant potting the tomatoes and making sauce and freezing it. So many ways.

One method a friend told me about was how she uses a Nesco 18-quart roasting pan to put up her tomatoes. She just rinses the tomatoes and throws them in whole, mashes them a bit, and lets them cook down, periodically adding more tomatoes to the pot throughout a day or so. Since it’s electric, she does this outside and therefore keeps all the heat from boiling off the water out of her home. When the sauce is thick enough, she runs all the skins, seeds, and sauce through a food mill and freezes the sauce in ziplock bags. She lauds this method because it’s easy and makes a whole lot without too much effort.

There are a lot of kitchen appliances in my house and so getting yet another piece of equipment that I would only use once a year at best, seemed somewhat wasteful and so I’d never tried the method before.

But the dream of the Nesco entices me every year. This year I decided to go for it. So I went on to facebook marketplace and found myself a used Nesco for $30. I figured for thirty bucks this method was totally worth a try.

I’m in love. Living the roasting pot dream.

Right now there are 40# of tomatoes cooking down all in one pot, outside on my porch, with me not really having to lift a finger until they are ready to mill in another 10 hours. No steam in my house. No pre-cutting. No mess. Just the lovely smell of tomatoes cooking down on the porch.

Sometimes it’s the little things that bring a smile.

Farmer Cassie