“You say tomata and I say tomato.” Whatever your pronunciation, we can all agree that tomatoes are beginning to ripen on the vine. For all you foodies, get ready to preserve these fruits to brighten any snowy winter day. Tomatoes are perfect for freezing, drying or canning.
Freezing: Tomatoes can be cored, blanched, peeled and frozen whole or in quarters. Or roast tomatoes, garlic drizzled with olive oil at 350 for an hour until edges are darkening. Put in blender or food processor with additional oil and a large bunch of basil. Process until smooth. Freeze in containers for excellent winter sauce.
Drying: Tomatoes can be dried in a dehydrator for later use on pizza or pasta. Tomato pulp can also be dried as fruit leather and eaten or added to soups & sauces.
Canning: Homemade tomato sauce, chili sauce, salsa or simple canned tomatoes are hands down the most useful winter preserves. It is important to understand that the pH of tomatoes is around 7.6. This is critically important in order to choose the correct, safe canning method. Today’s tomatoes are less acidic than they once were. In part this is due to hybridization and also changes to growing conditions. This means that all tomatoes that are processed in a water-bath canning situation must be acidified. Chili sauce and salsas have added vinegar enough to increase acidity to a safe level. It is also essential to add 1 TBSP of bottled lemon juice to each 500 ml jar of tomatoes or tomato sauce to ensure safety. This might not be what your grandmother did, but it is required today. If you want to make stewed tomatoes or create a tomato sauce with vegetables or meats, pressure canning is necessary in order to raise the processing temperature to 240 degrees.
Stock up the pantry with tomatoes for winter: Freeze them, dry them or can them. Follow a reputable modern recipe (see Bernardin, Ball or Centre for Home Food Preservation websites) and specified methods to ensure high quality, safe tomato products for the home pantry.
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