Kopp's Crops is a family-run business specializing in maple syrup, honey and fresh vegetables. We are located 45 miles north of Minneapolis in Bradford Township on our 65 acre farm.

*Now Selling at the Cambridge-Isanti Farmers Market!*

Local Orders: For pickup in Isanti, Cambridge, Brooklyn Park or Arden Hills, please email koppscrops@gmail.com or call 763-772-7057 to place your order and arrange payment & pickup. Available products are listed in the shopping cart below.

Outside the Twin Cities: Please use the online shopping cart below. USPS shipping charges will be calculated at checkout.

For questions, please email us at koppscrops@gmail.com


Monday, September 19, 2011

For the Love of Tomatoes - Part 2 (Preserving)

We consider tomatoes the jewels of our garden.  Not just because they’re a beautiful ruby red color and look nice surrounded by platinum and diamonds.  Tomatoes are our most versatile, most preservable vegetable (or technically, fruit).  Tomato-based recipes are easy to can because they’re so acidic – they can be hot water bathed instead of pressure canned.  But because the newer tomato varieties are less acidic than some of the heirloom varieties, we add a teaspoon of lemon juice to any tomato-based product to ensure the proper botulism-preventing ph level.  Hot water bathing is just about like it sounds – we get a big pot of water simmering on the stove, then gently place our full jars into the water, making sure they’re fully submerged.  We bring it to a rolling boil so it’s like a little jar Jacuzzi in there with all those bubbles, and keep it rolling for the allotted time.  Our trusted source of all things safely canned is the University of MN Extension service (http://www1.extension.umn.edu/food-safety/preserving/canning/).  They’ve got a handy-dandy chart that has the appropriate canning times & pressures for just about anything you’d ever want to put in a jar.  Anything edible, anyway.
A few weeks ago we juiced the first ripe fruits to can 15 quarts of juice for the winter’s chili and meatloaf, and made 7 quarts of Mexican chicken soup for those winter nights we’re just too lazy to cook.  We experimented with tomato paste, too – we made a “bowl” out of unbleached muslin by rubber-banding it over a big pot, then poured in a gallon or so of juice inside and let the water seep into the pot, leaving thick paste behind.  We didn’t really have enough to can, so we just froze it in an ice cube tray to create 2 tablespoon servings to thicken soups this winter (and tonight’s hot dog chili!).  Finally, it was time to go Italian – we recently finished our second 18-pint batch of pasta sauce – 50 pounds of tomatoes (juiced), 5 onions (diced), one giant sprig of basil (chopped), a bunch of branches of oregano, a few bay leaves (we cheated a little here – the bay leaves were purchased)  and garlic, more garlic, and even more garlic (minced). 
But it’s time to break out the trumpets and play “Taps” for the tomatoes.  In preparation for an unusually early Minnesota frost last week, we decided to pull off all the even-close-to-being-ripe tomatoes.  We’re keeping a few in the hopes that they ripen enough to eat before they rot, but with the blight we’ve had, the odds are not good.  This weekend, we pulled all the plants & stakes out of the ground – leaving a depressingly bare patch between our late green beans and the fall crop of spinach, just now starting to sprout.  <sniff>  We miss our tomatoes already.  But it’s just a short 6 months until we start planting seeds for next year’s tomato crop!