Dear Neighbor,

Here, in the south, abandoned gardens can often be found by late July and August. The owners, stricken by heat, lack of energy and apparently worn out to the bone, can’t give the TLC required to keep their gardens growing and just let them go. Weeds, ugly grasses and dehydration steal the hearts of veggies and death usually results.

Due to my yearning for red tomatoes of my own and frustrated with my slothful garden, I visited¬† local, potential crime scene; a once loved garden. After viewing the evidence,¬† I could tell the relationship was definitely over. There they were, fifteen brown and dying tomato vines with red globes hanging from them, just crying out to be adopted. When I asked the neighbor if I could help him pick his fruits, he told me he didn’t want them anymore and if I picked them, I could have them. I went into full tomato rescue mode.

The orphaned beauties came home with me and I made my first batch of salsa and spaghetti of 2010. It took me a little less than fifteen minutes from tomato to pan for each batch. Yes, fifteen minutes. I have two secret weapons: My Victorio Food Strainer and a food processor.

Start with nice ripe tomatoes.

Quarter and fill the strainer bowl.

A 9×13 pan catches the tomato product while a bread pan catches the skins and stems.

A full strainer bowl makes exactly 8 cups of tomato product.

Here is what the strainer sifted out: peelings and stems.

A few of the salsa and spaghetti jars.

I simply love that strainer! They sell different screen heads for processing different things. The one that comes with it is fairly fine and can be used for making something like marinara sauce or sifting apples for sauce. You can buy a berry, salsa, pumpkin and grape screen. I used the salsa screen for both my salsa and spaghetti sauce because I like chunky sauces. They sell a motor for it. For what I do, it is totally not necessary and very easy to crank. Now if I had a vineyard…..

As far as the onion, peppers and garlic, I cut them quickly by pulsing a few times in a food processor. The trick to creating tiny pieces without pulverizing them to death is processing small amounts at a time.

Add your spices and simmer until it is ready to put in canning jars. Heat your water bath while it is simmering and I usually start my clean up. It is just that easy!

Here is a home movie of the Victorio at work.

This is an amazing device. Processes berries, apples, grapes and much more. If you like to put up your own food, you really have to have one! See our General Store for your best prices on Victorio Food Strainer