I've been losing the battle with my counter. I do love the new counter. It is huge compared to my old one. But my husband tells me if there is a horizontal surface I will find a way to cover it. It was slowly being taken over by mostly solanums with a few alliums and legumes thrown in for good measure.
Yesterday I dealt with the huge poundage of tomatillos. Today I tackled the tomatoes. This time red salsa. Or more precisely Annie's Salsa (not Granny's dog mind you, but a different Annie). I'd never made it before. It gets rave reviews, but occasionally someone doesn't like it. I liked it quite well. Yum. It took forever to make, just like the Salsa Verde yesterday. Sadly even with that pile of tomatoes I didn't have enough for a full recipe. I did 3/4 of it. The paste isn't mine, but I did make the sauce to add in. And I ignored the sweet peppers and made them all jalapenos and serranos. My jalapenos are almost sweet. I wish the serranos had punched up the heat a bit more, but sadly the finished product is a bit too mild. I think if I mixed it with Granny's last batch, I'd have perfection.
I had a lot of kinds of tomatoes in this salsa. I'm really trying to find the best canning tomato for me. Well I found a clear winner in the taste category. Heinz 2653. But I'll go down all the tomatoes. And no photos. I peeled them all before I even thought of it.
First I have three Chinese heirlooms that I'm growing - two of which have ripe tomatoes, Early Kus Ali and Hong Yuen. They all say they are good all around tomatoes and make great canners and great sauce. Well I beg to differ. The taste is fine, but not spectacular. They do not hold up to saucing. The typical way to make sauce (or tomatoes for salsa) is to put them in boiling water for a couple of minutes then peal them and take out their guts (seeds and gel). These tomatoes don't have a thick skin. They have a very thin skin and lots of gel. They are definitely not saucing tomatoes. Hong Yuen is a good canner for a whole tomatoes. The tomatoes are relatively small and they are so cute skinned. If I hadn't needed every bit of tomato I could muster I would have canned them whole.
Then I had a handful of real paste tomatoes, San Marzano, Opalka, Amish Paste, and Heinz. San Marzano and Opalka were fairly similar. Their taste was OK, but not great. They were dry as paste tomatoes should be. They both had a similar shape which was elongated and thinner on top. Amish Paste stood out as a good fresh eating tomatoes. It can't hold a candle to something like Cherokee Purple but very good. It had more gel than the other paste tomatoes which could have been the reason. The gel holds a lot of the flavor for fresh eating tomatoes. Amish paste is a slightly elongated tomato with a point at the tip and a decent size for paste tomatoes.
Then came Heinz. It was in a class by itself. The tomatoes were a bit smaller than the other, but it was dry. It didn't taste sweet but had a very full rich acidic flavor to it. It is by no means an fresh eating tomatoes. It is not sweet enough for that and has no juice. But as a paste tomato it far outclassed the others in the pack. It is an early determinate, but doesn't seem to be holding up well to the diseases of the area. It could just be because of the heat. It is supposed to be a good tomato for cooler weather, which means good for our usual years.
I had two others that I used - Market Miracle and Cherokee Purple. It is kind of a shame to put Cherokee Purple into a sauce as it is so good for eating fresh, but I needed every tomato I could get. It takes the prize this year on fresh eating flavor and beauty. Market Miracle wasn't quite as tasty as it was last year. I think it shines more as a cool weather tomato than a hot weather tomato. Also last year it wasn't in the shade of a freakishly tall determinate.
Two tomatoes have been left out of this taste/use test. Romeo is maybe the largest paste tomato you can grow. I guess that makes it easy to process. It is a bit later. It is also the weirdest tomato I have. Its vines are very bendy. They don't like to go up. If it could crawl on the ground it would be happy. Also it doesn't put out a great deal of thick foliage like most tomatoes. It is scraggly. In addition some tomatoes are shaped differently. Some are plum shaped some more oxheart like Amish Paste is. The other is Peiping Chieh. It is the other Chinese heirloom and hasn't gotten ripe yet. I hope the wait is worth it.And after I was done clearing off a good amount of space on the counter, I made the mistake of going outside to chase a squirrel away from the tomatoes. I saw six tomatoes knocked off on the ground. So now the counter incursion is starting again.