Thought #1 – Cutting Tomatoes
Is there a right way and a wrong way to cut tomatoes? Seems like a silly question. When you are faced with over 25 lbs of them, though, it is a very important question.
As I was in the middle of cutting up tomatoes to begin the spaghetti sauce making process, I realized that I was making more of a mess than was needed. It all had to do with how I was cutting my tomatoes.
That right there may be the answer to the question. The right or wrong way will depend on what you are planning to use the tomatoes for. If you ever cut a tomato vertically in hopes of using it for a sandwich you will quickly know that particular way is wrong. However, if you are slicing them into wedges for a salad, cutting vertically is the correct way.
In my case, I was cutting them to squeeze out excess juice and seeds in order to decrease cooking time. It also results in tomato juice to can or freeze, rather than cooking off.
The first way I was doing it included coring then slicing in half vertically. That resulted in a lot of juice and seed bursting forth when I squeezed them, but usually outside the bowl and onto my backsplash. After a few tomatoes (yes, I was a little slow) I realized my error and corrected it. This time I cored them and cut them horizontally in half. Problem solved.
Now, the coring had nothing to do with removing the juice and all to do with saving me time and frustration putting it though my Sauce Master. It will take all the tomato, with no need to core, but the core tends to be tough to get going at first. Personally, I don’t want to fight it any more than I have to.
Thought #2 – Is it worth the time and effort to core the tomatoes?
So, in the end I did over 30 lbs of tomatoes. That is just a bit of coring I did, with a knife. Along the way I began to wonder if it was worth it … do I timed it. It took me about 3 seconds to core a tomato. It takes about a minute and lots more effort to sometimes get a core to go through my Sauce Master. If it took just 1 minute one time of trying to get a core to go through the food mill, that would equate coring 20 tomatoes. Knowing that it happens more than once with the food mill, I think it is a time saver to core them.
Thought #3 – Is it worth squeezing the juice out of the tomatoes before cooking them down?
This question was a harder one. For over 30 lbs of tomatoes … are you tired of hearing that yet? …. for just over 30 lbs, it took me about an hour to core, slice and squeeze the tomatoes. This did result in juice which means time saved having to cook it off. That also means gas saved. Although this one is harder to quantify, I do feel it is worth the effort. Anyone feel like doing the math?
Thought #4 – Is it worth adding tomato paste to the sauce to help thicken it up faster?
This one is also a bit harder to show, though I’m pretty sure I could if I took more time on it. I found that by adding a jar or two of paste, I was able to make an extra pint or so of sauce. It also saved me about an hour of cooking. So for just at 40 cents I was able to save an hour and gain a pint. Seems worth it to me. Now, if I had to pay $1 or $1.50, then the answer may have been different. I just know that one of the local stores always has paste for about 40 cents, so I can usually count on getting it that cheap.