In summer tomatoes are really cheap in Turkey, about 1 Turkish Lira a kilo. But as the weather starts to cool down the price of tomatoes starts to go up. In the peak of winter tomatoes can get up to around 6 Turkish Lira a kilo and the taste is often not there.
To make the stewed tomatoes (this recipe can be doubled or tripled or even more depending on how big a pot you have):
Once the peppers have started to soften add in 5 kgs of peeled and diced tomatoes. Slowly bring to the boil. Add in about a tablespoon of salt (and a pinch of sugar if you want) and cover and simmer for at least an hour.
Bring another large pot of water to the boil and boil jars and their lids to sterilize them. Remove jars and their lids from the boiling water and very carefully using tongs and tea towels so as not to burn yourself with either the boiling water or the boiling hot tomato mixture spoon the tomato mixture into the jars. Immediately put the lid on the jar and put the jars back into the boiling water for a minute.
Remover the jars from the water and place the jars upside down for about 24 hours (the heat and placing the jars upside down ensures suction to seals the jar lid shut). Store in a cool, dry place and use during winter.
I use these conserved tomatoes to make pasta sauce or to use in stews in place of fresh tomatoes, but the most common way I that I use these conserved tomatoes is so that we can continue to enjoy our favourite breakfast dish, menemen, even in the middle of winter. You may know menemen as a famous Turkish egg dish in which the eggs are scrambled into the tomato and green pepper mixture. But menemen is also the name for the egg-free version of the same dish.
To make menemen is very simple:
In a small pan dice an onion and fry in oil, add in a clove or two of thinly diced garlic. Fry gently until the onion is softened and the smells are starting to waft around the house. Add in a jar of the stewed tomatoes and green peppers. Add in some mild chili flakes, black pepper, salt to taste and a tiny bit of sugar (optional but I think it brings out the natural sweetness in the tomatoes). Cover and simmed over a low heat for about 10-15 minutes. If you are using fresh tomatoes and green peppers then fry the peppers at the same time as the onions and add the tomatoes after the peppers and onion have softened.