As a chef turned farmer, few things excite me more than food preservation. It’s a perfect match for the waves of produce we have on the farm at various times of the year. It is also the sweet intersection of three of my favorite subjects: food, art, and science.
Here on the farm, though the days are getting slightly cooler now, our summer season still has some kick. Nothing says that more than the continuing deluge of heirloom tomatoes coming out of the field. Though we sell many of our heirloom beauties, we can’t always sell the split tomatoes (also knowns as “seconds”), so we scramble to preserve them in a myriad of ways.
One new way to preserve tomatoes arrived this year, thanks to a class I teach for Farm School NYC called Community Food Arts. This is the fifth year I have taught the class and each year I feel reenergized by the excitement of the students. People take the class for a variety of reasons – to save produce from their gardens and farms from going to waste, to create a product for a new food based business, or to eat more healthily. Some students want to recreate foods of the cultures they grew up in or to learn the preservation methods they saw their elder family members using. Others are excited to build new flavors to use in their own cooking. In addition to these reasons, drying, freezing, canning and fermenting are also simply delicious.
As a teacher, helping the students transform their relationships with food is a joyful experience. One of the big projects we do in the class is to create a group small batch product. Every year it’s different because the students bring in their own ideas and we vote on what to make. This year, carrot ketchup stole the show. After some recipe development to make sure our recipe was safe for canning, we were ready to go.
On our production day, the class met at the farm – first we had some harvesting to do! We hit the carrot bed with forks and gloves, loosening the soil and pulling out handfuls of tender carrots. We raided the farm tomatoes – scooping up flats of heirloom seconds that would be perfect for flavor and preventing waste. And we gathered onions and cured garlic to round out our ketchup flavor. One of the requirements for the class recipe submission this year was that at least one ingredient come from the farm. Fantastically, with this recipe, all of the produce did.
After a fieldside lunch, it was off to the Chester Presbyterian Church, home of the commercial kitchen space we temporarily use to make our value added products. In the next two months, Rise & Root Farm will build our own commercial kitchen down the road from the farm. We have big plans for the new kitchen space, including a dedicated fermentation walk-in cooler, drying room for herbs and more, large scale equipment for quicker large batch processing (including a steam kettle!), and multiple work stations so our neighbors can work alongside us. The kitchen will be a welcoming, dynamic, healing space that will focus on local produce and healthy cooking. Future Farm School NYC classes and other students will be able to see fermentation and preservation happening at every stage of the process. They’ll be able to experience the farm-to-kitchen-to-table, all on one road.
Yield: 4 pints
• 2 pounds carrots, sliced
• 2 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 1 medium white onion, chopped
• 1 cup cider vinegar
• 2/3 cup maple syrup
• 1/3 cup honey
• 1 clove garlic, sliced
• 4 teaspoons sea salt
• 1 teaspoon dry mustard
• 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes
• 1/8 teaspoon allspice
1. Clean and prepare all the ingredients.
2. In a large pot, cook all ingredients together until carrots and onions are soft.
3. Carefully puree the hot ketchup until it is smooth, and strain to remove any chunks.
4. Return ketchup to a pot and cook down until thickened.
5. Meanwhile, wash jars and lids. Bring hot water bath to a boil and warm jars.
6. When thickened, ladle ketchup into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.
7. Wipe jar rims, seal with two piece or button lids and process in boiling (212ºF) water bath for 15 minutes.
8. Remove jars and cool. Check for a proper seal.
Enjoy within one year!*
* The trick is to let the ketchup sit for at least three weeks before you eat it – that way the natural sugars from the carrots and tomatoes will meld with the acidity of the vinegar and taste more smooth than if you eat it right away.
Michaela Hayes, Karen Washington, Lorrie Clevenger and Jane Hodge run Rise & Root Farm, a 3-acre organic farm in Orange County, New York. They are currently raising money to build a new community and commercial kitchen space. Find out more, and support their project on Indiegogo. Read more about Rise & Root in this article from our September/October 2016 issue: Growing Community at a Social Justice Farm in New York.