Kitchen Mechanics

You may or may not have noticed the profound lack of posting around here lately. This is because I am too busy running heavy machinery in the kitchen to have time to blog. But don’t worry. I took pictures.

First of all, in a fit of desperation (after hand-seeding a bushel and a half of tomatoes), I broke down and got myself a tomato strainer.

Roma tomato strainer

This particular one is the “Roma” strainer. It comes with a tomato/apple screen (you can buy other screens, such as a grape screen and a salsa screen, if you have an extra $35 to shell out.) The strainer itself is about $55-$60 and is a good design, though some of the parts are kind of cheesily made.

Notice the very large hopper on top, the hand crank (since, as you might recall, we canned last year’s tomatoes without electricity); notice the nifty chute for your strained product to roll down, and the little plastic garbage funnel on the far left. This is a time-tested arrangement for straining, where a screw inside the screen moves the pulp through an ever-shrinking funnel until all the liquid material oozes out through the strainer screen and the strained out stuff pops out the garbage end.

Basically, you chop your tomatoes (quartered is fine, unless they’re abominations) and cook them for a few minutes to get them extra-soft.

Cooking down tomatoes

Ladle some of the tomaotes and juice into the large hopper.

Softened tomatoes going into hopper

Turn the crank, and watch the magic happen.

Working the Roma strainer

Tomato puree

When you’re all finished, you will have a nice bowl of tomato puree that you can cook down into a thick tomato sauce. Or you can make soup. Or you can make one of the nine billion tomato dishes that require skinned and seeded tomatoes. It’s up to you.

Strained tomato sauce

While you’re deciding what to do with your tomato bounty, I’ll show you our other new piece of kitchen equipment. I finally got myself a Pressure Canner.

(You will see by its sheer size and magnitude that it deserved Capitalization.)

Big Canner

See how it dwarfs my old water-bath canner? See how its girth is so massive that the two can’t both fit on the stovetop at the same time?

I fear the Pressure Canner, to be quite honest. It has a humongous lid, with a ginormous handle:


Doesn’t that look just massive? (It is. I can barely lift it.)

But the intimidating part is all the dials, gauges and weights.


Weight on canner

Under pressure

They seem so precise, which is so not me in the kitchen. I am a hack, really. And hacks and high pressure don’t seem to go together. Not really. I need to be careful and pay attention, damnit.

Everything about this cooker/canner is big, including the noises that it makes (but that’s another story). Let’s just say that I can process 32 pint jars at one go, or 16 quarts. I can also make enough soup at one time to feed a platoon of hungry soldiers.

But I’m excited to finally have a pressure canner. This means we can put up meat sauce, or low-acid vegetables, or meat, or soup stock, or basically anything you might otherwise see in jars or cans in your grocery. And that, my friends, is no small thing.


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