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Disclosure

 

When I’m asked to provide a description of myself, I always say that I’m ‘just this side of crunchy’ because we do things like drive gas guzzlers and buy pre-packaged food when we are feeling lazy. But we also grow a garden, use cloth diapers, napkins, rely heavily on hand-me-downs, and recycle nearly everything that WOULD go in our trash. In short, we’re pretty green. We even like to make Irish stew with green noodles. We love green!

 

Green is great!

Green is great!

 

Yes, I’m in favor of all things ‘green’-even if we don’t do some of it ourselves! I love that there’s a place that gathers all the newest, greenest items that actually work! Green Team Distribution generously sent me a set of natural child care products from Hip Peas to try out and share with you! Learn more about this amazing set of people at their blog here: Green Team Distribution. I love how they support small businesses, green products, and in general ‘awesome’ things!

 

The two products we were sent were detangler and bodywash/shampoo.  I was most interested in 1. how they compared to our current products and 2. if what was important to my family was met by the product (including picky kids!) Let’s get to it!

 

The first product we tried was the Hair Detangler.

 

First of all, it was a lesson for my 5 year old into what a hippie was! That was priceless in itself! She has just learned about puns and really loves them, so I was really happy to share that little gem with her! It also opened the conversation about natural products and using more natural cleaners and soaps, something I’ve dabbled in before but have not been able to totally immerse myself! This is a great product to ‘green’ your little one’s routine, without committing to a huge product change.

 

We used this on all 3 kids: the 5 year old with wavy hair (both long and after it was cut to shoulder length), the 3 year old (wispy fly away), and the baby’s- wavy-ish as it is coming in and sticking up everywhere! Here’s how it worked on all of them!

Natural hair detangler

Natural hair detangler

 

Wavy, longer hair

For the 5 year old, it immediately took tangles out, both in longer and shorter hair. Since her hair’s texture is kind of strange (it can never make up its’ mind what it wants to be from day to day)– it was a blessing to have something I wasn’t afraid to spray in her face! She always complained when other stuff got on her skin, but she’s not said anything about this other than, can you spray my hair please? She’s taken on a lot more responsibility for her newly shorn locks and for a busy mom of 3, that is a Godsend! She loves the scent and oohs and ahhs over it. Win!

“Mommy, I don’t like the other stuff anymore, I only want Hip Peas”- K, age 5

Wispy, fly away hair

The 3 year old rarely has tangles, but she does have a lot of flyaways and the detangler works more like a way to get it to calm down so I can make sure it all gets brushed at once, otherwise it’s floating away! It allows for easy grasping of those fine hairs that get in her face and makes it simple to throw a barrette or tiny ponytail in her bangs so she can see!

“Mmm, that’s smells dee-licious”-B, age 3

Baby Bed-Head

The baby got spritzed the other morning by my husband, and then he simply plastered her hair (which was sticking up in odd places) down with his hand. It worked! It looked smooth for church! I felt fine with spraying it on her hair and didn’t worry about chemicals being inhaled!

“That actually smells really good”- husband

So to answer my queries: 1. This compares favorably to our current product, in fact, I think it may be better! and 2. Obviously, the kids love it!  As you can see, all of us are Hip Peas converts! Overall we really like this product and I think we’ll be buying more as soon as this container is empty! Everyone loves it and it works really well. The kids are crazy about the scent and I’m really impressed with how well it works! How would you like to try it yourself? Sound good? Stay tuned, you’ll have a chance to win some in a minute, but first check out the other product we reviewed!

 

Next we tried the Shampoo and Body Wash.

natural body wash and shampoo!

natural body wash and shampoo!

 

I was kind of skeptical, I’ve used a natural shampoo before, and it didn’t make the kids’ hair clean at all! This one took out dirt (yes even my girls throw dirt in their hair!) It took out chlorine from swimming lessons (bye bye overly harsh chlorine removing shampoo!) It took out everyday grease and grime. It makes a TON of foam with a generous squirt in your hand or on a washcloth. It doesn’t leave a lot of scent when you use it, it’s fairly light and I used it with few qualms on the baby who has eczema and flares up with every.single.thing.  I will have to watch her and make sure it doesn’t in the future, and the other kids had absolutely no issues. With ingredients like aloe, lavender, chamomile, and rosemary, you could probably even drink it and it wouldn’t hurt you –but I wouldn’t recommend it! I actually ran a bath upstairs for the kids last night, because that’s where the bottle of Hip Peas was– no kidding. When I saw it wasn’t in the downstairs bathroom, I changed my mind on where to bathe the kids– now that’s good stuff! The kids like to smell it and although I am NOT a blueberry fan at all, the scent of the shampoo is not overwhelming to me. The detangler is a bit more potent in the way of scent, but again, it doesn’t bother me and that’s a good thing!

1. This was more gentle and cleaned just as effectively as the chlorine stripping shampoo, but with fewer harsh chemicals. Definite win. 2. The kids love using it. I think they love the detangler more! We may use this in conjuction with other products, and perhaps use it after swimming to keep the kids’ hair soft and chlorine free!

Buy now!

My preferred retailer (affiliate link) is Kelly’s Closet. Click the link for: All Hip Peas Products

Enter to win now!

Now obviously you’re here to learn about the products, but also for the giveaway right? So let’s get to it! To enter to win the same two products from Hip Peas I reviewed (1 bottle detangler, 1 bottle shampoo and body wash) generously offered by GREEN TEAM DISTRIBUTION:

 

Disclosure: I was provided with 2 products to review, but was not compensated in any other way. As always, this is my blog and I tell you the truth. My humble way of saying, the opinions are my own, and may differ from yours, so use your best judgement in every purchase decision you make–wise in these economic times, right?

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B is 3!

Posted September 20, 2014 By Jill
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brennanbirthday

Who says being a middle child is difficult? She’s big enough to be a big kid, smart enough to do her sister’s homework, and such a loveable caring child. She’s also hilarious. While she’s middle of the road in height (she finally passed the 3ft mark!) she’s at the 10%ile for weight. She and her 9 month old sister share clothes. *sigh* it’s really hard to sort them out, but eventually they do get to the correct place! She’s our tiny one!

brennanbirthday2

She definitely has ‘favorite’ things. TV shows, movies, colors.. that are all her own. She’s more tomboy than her sister (hard to believe, but true) but still loves to be a princess, too. If you ask her how many she wants of something, she always says 5. Olives, carrots, it doesn’t matter. There’s not much she won’t eat (hot dogs are not her friend for some reason, but she does struggle through a bite or two politely if we ask), but her favorite really seems to be pb&j. Easy peasy. She’s used to just going along, so she does. Yes, her favorite animal is still her piggy. She thinks ‘he’ is pretty neat.

bsays2

 

Did I mention loving? She almost smothers you with her love most of the time. Good, but.. you know. She’s starting to get a raging case of the 3′s, but we’re experienced now and it doesn’t really matter. Her temperament is also completely different from older sister, so she can at least be reasoned with from time to time. A big bonus for us! We’re going to have to teach her how to ask questions and NOT assume anything. The crying at the drop of a hat thing has got to end, and it barely started. Oh it’s so hard to be three! She’s started swimming lessons, and has her church club, and that’s a lot for her. Now she’s my big helper around the house. She has a willing spirit and smile at the ready most days. She definitely needs a nap, she’s bonkers without it, and zonks out in her car seat on trips still (whew) so that’s one less thing to worry about when we do things.

 

We’re re-learning letters and doing some pre-schooling at home.  Since she’s not reading and can’t handle computation on paper, we’re just practicing a little bit with a pencil, and doing some coloring, and a LOT of reading time while baby sister is napping or occupied with a ‘cookie’ aka those melt-away rice crackers. She loves looking at books, talking to herself to make up stories based on the pictures, or repeating them word for word. I feel a bit like I’ve been transported back 3 years to working with her sister on everything. She knows a lot, just not quite enough to put it all together, but it will fall into place soon enough. No rush. She’s definitely her own person and trying to figure out the independence thing one step at a time. Her imagination has always been really developed, and her memory for tunes and music is very high at this point. She follows along with the kid’s choir at church and has most of the Lord’s prayer memorized too, if she can sit still long enough for it. She also just sits down and draws pictures on her own and can tell you what they are.

 

She’s always been pretty close to my side, but lately daddy seems more her style. We’ll see as the months go by what happens with that. Since I’m home all day it doesn’t matter if she grabs onto daddy the minute he gets home! The only real concern is that she is clumsy as the day is long. She’s also an enormous copycat with zero sense of fear. None. Runs, climbs, etc.  She bunny hopped and smacked her head on the ground last night when we went for a walk. Gorgeous bruise right in the middle of her forehead. Lovely. Once her teeth stopped coming in and she quit having a mouth full of slobber, I think she became a little harder to understand. I have to have her repeat things a lot. It’s adorable though, I guess she’s lucky she’s so cute! Also that she has a great vocabulary.

bsays

 

 

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Cloth Diaper Reality TV

Posted September 18, 2014 By Jill
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Thinking about drama in cloth diapers lately had me mentally flashing to shows like ‘real housewives’, etc. Although I don’t watch that much trash TV, I’ll admit to seeing who is or is not the father on Maury every now and again [makes me feel so much better!] Aside: Are there really THAT many people who don’t know ‘how it happens?’ Because. Health Class. What kind of reality show can you see happening that stems from cloth diapers?

1. Put moms in a house with only one washing machine and see who battles it out for machine time?

2. Blogger vs. Blogger? What kind of challenges and whom would you like to see pitted against whom?

3. WAHM sew diapers to try and get a prize that includes production of their diaper line?

4. Flash mob mayhem in person over much-adored prints by a certain manufacturer? *Limited Editions anyone?* Can you imagine the carnage?

5. Something else????

 

What am I forgetting? Which bloggers, manufacturers, or personas would you like to see involved in something like this?

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If you have big kids, do they help you pick diapers out for your baby?

Do they have a favorite?

Is it the same as yours?

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Fluffy Friday: Foxes & Fabulous Forest Friends

Posted September 12, 2014 By Jill
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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.

The last few years, owls have been ‘in’. During a conversation with my ‘invisible friend’ Mindy The Inquisitive Mom last year we discussed the possibility of foxes to be the ‘next big thing’! Looks like we were right! Which of these foxes is your favorite?

Outfoxed by Babykicks-first fox that triggered my thoughts on this subject!

Foxy! Photos from BK

Foxy

Outfoxed by Babykicks-first fox that piqued my interest!

 

I remember thinking how this reminded me of coyotes instead– but spurred my desire to seek out fox prints, and now. Here.They.Come! One we actually have TWO of in our collection now!

Fox in spots newborn Tots Bots

Fox in spots newborn Tots Bots on Casey!

This was our first fox find! Sorry about the odd lighting, but I didn’t get a chance to look at the newborn pictures until– you guessed it, newborn diapers no longer fit! It’s gorgeous though, so….

Tots Bots, see more prints at http://www.kellyscloset.com/?AffId=765

Tots Bots, see more prints at Kelly’s Closet

We had to get the one-size version. Tots Bots prints are so adorable, from animals to nursery rhymes! New, in binky (part bamboo, part minky, fluffy!)

I spy 2 new foxy foxy prints from rumparooz!

I spy 2 new foxy foxy prints from Rumparooz! Photo from Diapershops

Rumparooz are not my favorite diaper. But I would take either or BOTH! All my favorite colors! Loving this trend! Anyone want to outfox my hubby and talk him into one?

Better make it both…

Foxy Frolic pail liner from Planetwise

Foxy Frolic pail liner from Planetwise (stock photo)

Fox Trot Pail Liner from Planet Wise

Fox Trot Pail Liner from Planet Wise (stock photo)

We have the Fox Trot Pail Liner and love it!

Hipster Fox- complete with glasses! from Smartbottoms!

Hipster Fox- complete with glasses! from Smartbottoms! (SB facebook page)

I’ll be honest. I don’t know what hipster means– but it’s orange that’s a favorite around here, and we have foxes in our yard. And our baby is a redhead- no brainer!

Friendly Forest Raccoon (and Sheep) by Sweet Pea

Friendly Forest Raccoon (and Sheep) by Sweet Pea

 It’s about time something other than owls took the spotlight! Raccoons? Adorable! Plus, who doesn’t love a good counting sheep? Sweet dreams little ones!

Funky Fluff has some new forest friends

Funky Fluff has some new forest friends- FF Facebook page

 

You may have already seen this review of Imagine printed flats. Here’s a picture from my own stash:

Imagine flat, diaper bag fold.

Imagine “Tree Friends” flat, diaper bag fold.

What are your favorite diaper trends? Do you fancy foxes, only under the sea, or marvels of modern design?

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Where would you be without 9/11?

Posted September 11, 2014 By Jill
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I’m not sure I mean located, exactly. More like, mentally. Has your life changed a lot? I remember thinking as a newlywed (3 months married)… how could we ever have kids.. NOW?!? As time progressed and we got more used to life as it BECAME, not as it WAS… I guess we just grew into it. In some ways.

 

But other times.. I wonder. Am I more concerned, more easily upset, frustrated, etc. because of the general ‘unsafe’ feeling that we always seem to be under? Every time we turn around, the terror threat level goes up, or something else happens that strikes fear in the heart of anyone blessed enough to be called ‘mom’… It’s enough to cause ANYONE anxiety, and if you’re more prone to it anyway, to cause even more problems…

 

What kind of mom would I have been… without 9/11? What kind of mom would you have been? [or if you're male or childless, fill in employee, spouse, etc]

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How to respond to social media that angers you

Posted September 10, 2014 By Jill
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In the wake of Robin Williams passing, everyone says ‘how sad’… and ‘if only someone had known’… and a few weeks later a mom ‘abandons her baby in a dumpster’ and it’s judge, jury, and executioner in the court of public opinion, without even knowing the whole story. No matter what it is. No matter where you are or your state of mind….when you hear something that happens on the news, or you read a headline in your internet feed…

 

STOP.

THINK.

FEEL.

PRAY.

 

What don’t you see there? Judge. Use righteous anger to slam someone with your hateful spewing over the internet. Immediately share the ‘breaking news’ link without any additional information and lump a person into a category when you don’t have the WHOLE story. What good is it doing you? What good is it doing the person you’re dealing with? Talking about? Do you even know who they are? Do you know their every thought? Unless you’re judging yourself, you have absolutely no way to do so with any chance of understanding. When I commented on someone’s blithe comment that society was spiraling downward and an abandoned baby was just a way to get out of a responsibility, I calmly countered with ‘I am praying for the situation and hope that everyone gets help’…. you know why? Because it’s the truth. Because if it was me in anything remotely similar, I wouldn’t want to be found wanting by everyone with an opinion on the internet. Because I don’t know the WHOLE truth. Because I am not the woman or child (again, no one knows as of right now) that gave birth to that particular baby. I’ve been through childbirth. I’ve been through PPD. I’m living in the hell that is a combo of PPD and PPA with no medication, no therapy and no help. While I don’t know exactly what happened, I could lay out at least a half dozen scenarios that don’t make the mother of that baby a horrible person. Without knowing the whole story. Now of course, that’s complete conjecture… play along, won’t you?

  • Maybe it’s a teen that hid the pregnancy and therefore hid the baby where no one would find it until she could come back with formula or get help from a friend and the baby was discovered in the meantime.
  • Maybe she was passed out nearby and someone took her to the hospital after noticing her bleeding, but the baby remained hidden.
  • Maybe an impatient boyfriend or husband took the baby and didn’t come back with it.
  • Maybe the mom is mentally ill.
  • Maybe she didn’t know about Safe Haven Laws and hoped the baby would be discovered by a passer-by.
  • Maybe none of these is true at all…

In none of these scenarios is the person outright evil–and when you look at reality as REALITY, not reality TV… it’s not that often. Our modern society has trained us to immediately think that every thing is scary. Everything is evil. Everything is out to get you. Everyone is out to cheat the system, get welfare, and a free ride. Look out, they’re scary! Helmets are marketed to people who have newly walking babies.. what if they hit their heads? What if they fall down? What if our great grandparents would look at us like we’re out of our fricking trees for even thinking that? Our normalcy has been replaced by pure insanity. Parents can’t go inside to the bathroom with a kid on the lawn–there are dangers around every corner. Kids are not allowed to walk to school, to the bus stop, or across a small town– clearly there’s a mad man with a knife following you always, waiting for you to slip up. Make one wrong move and not only will your friends know, but so will the whole world if the media finds out. You will be crucified before you get your say. There’s a way to stop it, and it starts with you. Now I know not everyone is religious but feel free to insert ‘good thoughts’ for prayer, ok? When you read something online or hear a news story that offends you:

STOP.

THINK.

FEEL.

PRAY.

Discover inside what’s really bothering you. A very prominent local story talks about a dead body laying in rest for several hours “like a dog” I heard someone snark– while weeks later the truth comes out that only certain people are able to investigate and release a corpse for transport. If that person doesn’t show up? It doesn’t get done, right?  Guess what never made it to social media? The truth.  Stop. Think. Feel. Yes, it feels awful to think of someone– anyone— laying in the street on a hot day, it feels gross to think of what might be happening at that point in time– let’s face it, we’ve all seen an episode of CSI– or enough to realize what happens in those first few hours– yes it feels AWFUL. But if you use logic you’ll realize that you being hateful doesn’t change police/government/county/city policy. It might make you feel better to shout your opinion to the world and get it reaffirmed by your friends– but you can’t take that hateful speech back. You can’t undo the ripples your anger might cause. Putting in your 2 cents might boost you up for a little while, but it doesn’t mean you are right. It doesn’t change anything about what has already happened. We’ve all seen what hatefulness can do. Let’s see what using rational thought and prayer can do. Let’s see what withholding judgement, biting our tongues (and stopping our tap tapping fingers) and instead actually having and acknowledging our feelings can do. We’ve been immediately reacting and responding for too long.

Let’s use our brains for more than protest and judgement. Let’s use the skills any 5 year old is taught. Stop. Be quiet. Think. Listen. Feel. (with a little leeway here as it is my blog–Pray)…

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Lunch box note tutorial

Lunch box note tutorial

 

Back to school means packing a lunchbox for a lot of parents! Gone are the days of brown bags and bologna on white bread (although some days that sounds so yummy!) Now kids get themed bentos with perfectly written notes. At least that’s what Pinterest tells you…right? Well whether you ever dive into Pinterest or not, you might consider slipping a note between the sandwich and juice box now and again. Now I’m not the pinterest perfect mom, but I do have a child who upon entering Kindergarten could read. Very well.  In fact, she’s used to reading a good portion of the day. So she NEEDS a little bit of a challenge since they don’t read a whole lot in the classroom yet! How can she get that? Why with a note tucked into her lunch, of course! Berry beary bento box optional ;-)

 

Tips, tools and trends:

To get started, figure out what supplies you need. Decide how often you want to send a note and go from there. Sharpie markers or a good pen are good for writing as they don’t smear easily and you probably already have them. I found some shaped paper cutouts in the ‘teacher’ section of back to school at our local store. These are probably what teachers would use to put on the door, wall, or bulletin board with each child’s name, or other important information. Each pack contained anywhere from 24-36 pieces and cost less than a dollar. For about $5 you can get enough to last through the school year! You could also use post-it’s or any other paper you have laying around. Raid your desk drawer. What else are you doing with those political candidate freebie pads or constant bids for money from charities that send you a ‘gift’ of a notepad with their solicitation? Cut off the name and you have a note just the right size for a lunchbox! Keep these supplies near where you pack lunches. Don’t forget something to secure the note with, as well. I have a roll of masking tape that sticks well to the inside of the lunchbox, and won’t damage the box when removed, so I use a tiny piece of that on the top only, so it can be flipped and read on both sides! If you want something a little more special, find note pads themed to your child’s favorite  movie/TV/book characters. A craft store or dollar store are also great places to find seasonal papers. Be sure and keep all the supplies together and add new items to your note-writing stash so you don’t lose them in the shuffle and have 20 pumpkin papers left in December. You can save them for the next year, of course, but the more general your seasonal supplies are, the better: snowmen (not Santa), pumpkins (not jack o lanterns), flowers, etc.

 

Love from home

Love from home-be sure to include siblings!

Beginning of the year:

During the first few weeks, notes from home could include drawings, pictures, or letters that signify that family is thinking of the child. For early readers or older kids, “I love you” and xoxo are great space fillers for the front of the note, while filling out the back with more specifics where there is more blank space! Encouraging thoughts and reminders about good behavior or bouncing back from a bad day are a good way to get the second half of the day onto a bouncy and happy start!

 

Reminders

Reminders and tips about lunch! “Change is good” packed with a new food is a great tip for getting that lunch eaten!

 

Add a little noggin food to your lunchbox:

You won’t believe what knowledge you can impart to your child, even if you’re not there. Have they ever heard TGIF? Do they know what it means? How about acronyms? Good concept for kids to ‘get’ at this age! Plus it can help you transition your child from bus to homework as you say ‘how was your note?’ ‘did you know…’ and then lay out that homework folder! If kids stay in learning mode they’re less likely to fight those ABC’s! Not to mention a little scribble saying ‘this is daddy’s favorite veggie that you haven’t tried’… can go a LONG way to an empty lunch box (that actually hits the tummy and not the trashcan!)

 

Themed

Themed notes go with the appearance of the note

Silliness counts:

If you’re not into making lunch about learning, impart information about their day or just give a little doodle! You can remind your child to ride the bus home, that it’s a holiday the next day, etc. Don’t forget to impart some silliness! In the owl note below, I suggested pumpkin as a pizza topping for our takeaway pizza [which happens to be a school fundraiser]. I wonder if she’ll giggle or frown? Can’t wait to find out!

 

Add a little fun to lunch!

Add a little fun (and facts!) to lunch!

Personalized

Personalize the note to your child’s interests!

Final tips:

  • Take requests- on the note, and lunch
  • Use your child’s favorite colors or themes
  • Look up tidbits using a simple Internet search to add to the note if you get stuck
  • Find out what you’re child is working on in class and incorporate that into the note if you can
  • Keep track of what you’ve done so you’re not repeating yourself
  • Holidays, seasons, and special school occasions are good ways to impart variety into your lunchbox notes–and the lunch, too!
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Too many tomatoes? No problem!
Preserve tomatoes without glass jars!

As you can see from our bumper crop photo, we had WAY more tomatoes this year than we could eat! Having no canner and not wanting to have all the glass jars around for the kids to shatter, we decided to venture into freezing the tomatoes. A quick check with our canning expert (my mom) told me that while frozen tomatoes don’t have the same taste or texture as those preserved in glass jars, it’s virtually impossible to tell the difference once they’re added to soups, stews, sauces, or casseroles! Since the main uses we have for tomatoes in the winter is for adding to just such recipes, we were sold! You can also use this process up to step 4 to prepare tomatoes for adding to a sauce you are making the same day: spaghetti sauce, etc.

 

Too many fresh tomatoes? Easy freeze!

Too many fresh tomatoes? Easy, just freeze ‘em!

Step 1: Prep

The first step in the process is prepping your work area and the tomatoes for use. Gather all the necessary equipment. Fill your pot halfway with hot water and get the water boiling – a small one will do if you only have one large one to cook in. If you have 2 large pots, even better! If all you have is one large pot, then use it for steps 1-3 and then rinse it out before re-filling with the prepped tomatoes for step 4. Fill a bowl with cold water and ice near the stove–making sure to leave room for the cooling tomatoes. Lay out the rest of the materials within easy reach.

 

Freeze fresh tomatoes- step 1- core

Freeze fresh tomatoes- step 1- core

Once the tomatoes are picked (or brought home from the farmer’s market if you find a bargain!), you need to wash them thoroughly to remove any debris and remove the stems. You can core them before or after scalding, just depending on what you like better. We found it easier to go ahead and remove any bad spots and the core ahead of time, so there was minimal knife work to do with them once they had been in the boiling water. This also helps you spot any trouble areas or decay you might not have noticed before. Bad tomatoes literally spoil the stew, so indulge your inner child and smell them once they’re cut to make sure they are ready to cook! Your nose ‘knows’! Better something extra for the compost or bin than to have a bad taste in your mouth when that batch of chili is on the stove!

 

Freeze fresh tomatoes-scalding

Freeze fresh tomatoes- Make an x with a knife before scalding – the peel falls off!

You can also make a small x near the bottom of the tomato with your knife to help the skins loosen in the scalding process! We tried with and without the x and found that making the x made them much easier to peel. This also works for stone fruit like peaches, if you’re planning on freezing them for pie!

Step 2: Scald

Scalding tomatoes (or other fruits and vegetables) is the process by which the outer skins are quickly cooked so that they loosen and peel off easily. Using the boiling water, and some tongs or  a slotted spoon, work in batches of 5-8 cleaned and prepped tomatoes, depending on size. Carefully immerse the tomatoes in the boiling water. Wait about 60-90 seconds or until you see the skins start to loosen. Transfer each batch to your pre-prepped bowl of ice water with the tongs/spoon. Don’t forget to refresh your ice as you work, so the tomatoes cool off quickly and are easy to handle! After they cool for a bit, remove them from the ice bath and skin/core them if you haven’t already. If you made the X on the bottom of the tomato, the skins should fall off when touched! This process would also be called parboiling and shocking if you’re familiar with those terms.

Step 3: Chop

You can chop using a knife, cutting each tomato into 4-6 pieces depending on size, OR simply crush using your hands and place the pieces into a large bowl or pot. If you want to strain the juice off, and have a thicker sauce (and less cook time), use a separate bowl. If you don’t mind the extra juice and/or cooking time, put them directly into the pot!

Prepared tomatoes waiting for cooking!

Scoop tomatoes into the pot to leave pulp behind to strain for fresh juice!

If desired, add your favorite savory elements like garlic and onion to the pot. This will leave a thick, cooked down sauce that’s ready for nearly any Italian or Southwestern dish: think Goulash, Spaghetti or Chili.

No canner? No problem! Fresh tomatoes can be frozen!

No canner? No problem! Fresh tomatoes can be frozen!

BONUS STEP: Scoop tomatoes from bowl to pan and strain juices

Have fresh tomatoes but need juice? Strain the pulp!

Have fresh tomatoes but need juice? Strain the pulp!

Good for compost!

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Step 4: Cook

You’ve got your tomatoes strained (or not), added your savories as desired, and now it’s time to cook! Simply turn on your burner and let the mixture bubble, stirring occasionally. When it comes to a good rolling boil, you can turn it down and let the carryover heat complete the process on low. Once you’ve reduced the mixture by a little bit (30-60 minutes) you can take a potato masher and smash the tomatoes to a desired consistency. The tomatoes will be broken down and a loose ‘sauce’ will have formed. Turn off the burner and move the pot off the heat and allow the tomatoes to cool.

Cooking down tomatoes for the freezer!

Cooking down tomatoes for the freezer!

Step 5: Add to containers and freeze!

Plastic or glass containers for the freezer are obviously more forgiving than freezer bags, so make sure that the mixture is not too hot or it will melt the plastic! Be sure and leave 1/2-1 inch of headroom per container. If you use bags,  fill them about halfway, remove air, seal, and lay flat to freeze. This method of freezing also works well for sauces, soups, and stews if you want to freeze them, since they end up flat when solid, you can stack them in nearly any directly to make the best use of your freezer!

That’s it! As always, use your best judgement and follow basic food safety rules regarding leaving food out/bacteria, freezing and thawing, and use of stove top burners! Be safe and enjoy those tomatoes long after the growing season ends!

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