A Handmade Life Part 11–Preparing for Winter

It’s still July here in Southeast Kansas, but here at the Abella household, we’re preparing for winter!


We won’t have the garden in the middle of a Kansas winter.  The beautiful herbs and veggies won’t be there to pick fresh each day for meals.  So, we must prepare early.



Our garden has tomatoes, zukes, eggplants, basil, parsley, stevia, thyme, sage, and chives.  It’s a small plot, maybe 5 feet at the most, and a square.  Not a lot, of course, but it’s enough for our family.  It provides extra veggies and fresh herbs, which is fine by me!


God has provided a wonderful bounty of tomatoes, and with 4 plants, I’ve harvest upwards of 80 in less than 5 days.  We are in tomato heaven!

So what are we doing with all those tomatoes?

This got a little tricky.  See, those ‘maters have seeds and skin.  Hubby is not allowed seeds and skins on veggies/fruits for the time being due to some nasty gastrointestinal issues.  I love full tomatoes in all their glory, seeds and skins included.  Throw them on a sandwich with some bacon and/or lettuce and I’m good.  Shoot, it doesn’t even have to have bacon, just a tomato on bread with mustard, lettuce, and pickles, and I’m a happy camper.  Hubby loves his seeds and skins too.

So to help hubby be able to have his homegrown tomatoes without the pain, I’ve taken to processing them into a thick juice.  I have been blessed with a father in law who has all the processing equipment to can just about anything you can think of.   Hubby and I borrowed some of his equipment, like the cool strainer collander thingy on a tripod.  I LOVE it!


This last week, I went through a bunch of tomatoes, cleaned them from the crop dust (we believe in only organic Sevin LOL).  Then, took the core out, and put them in a stock pot with enough water that they cooked but didn’t boil over.


Then, they were spooned out and into a different pot to cool a bit.  Seriously, hot tomatoes don’t feel good on fingers.  After they cooled a bit, they were put into the collander/strainer thingy on 3 legs.  Using a wooden plunger (no, not the toilet kind–more like the mortar/pestil kind on a much larger basis), the ‘maters went through the strainer’s tiny itty bitty holes to leave behind only seeds and skins.  This took a long long while, or it seemed like it, but those stingy tomatoes gave up all the meat in them.  The seeds and skins I put aside into a big bowl for later use (like soup–there’s plenty of tomato taste left).


After allllll the tomatoes were put through the strainer thingy (don’t you love the scientific language here?? LOL) I had a good size pot of thick juice.  That thick juice simmered for a while in a pot, thickening up a bit.  When that cooled, I put it all into freezer bags.


Why freezer bags?  We’re planning a canning party with hubby’s dad, making lots of thick yummy sauce for pastas and such.  Papa has a lot of tomatoes too, so when hubby and Papa are ready, off to canning we go, using up all the things we’ve frozen in the meantime.  Between Papa’s canner and mine, we can whip up a lot of jars of sauce in no time once we get plenty between us to use.

Just another day at the Abella house!

Stay tuned for upcoming Hand Made Life series on preserving fresh herbs, including stevia, basil, and so on!


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