Tomatoes- Preserving the Harvest

Keeping Tomatoes Fresh:
If you've got a great, vine-ripened tomato, don't kill its flavor by storing it in the refrigerator! Determine whether tomatoes are fully ripe. A ripe tomato is dark red or orange, is slightly soft, has a uniform skin color and smells like a tomato. Put unripe tomatoes in a brown paper bag and leave them at room temperature until they ripen, usually in a day or two. Store ripe tomatoes in a cool place - around 55 degrees F. Stored this way, they should keep for five days. Avoid refrigerating tomatoes. Store cut tomatoes in the refrigerator and use as soon as possible.

Most tomatoes bought in supermarkets are not ripe.

Drying:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. (100 degrees C), or the lowest setting possible.

Trim and discard the stem ends of the tomatoes. Halve each tomato lengthwise. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, side by side and crosswise on cake racks set on sheets pans or cookie sheets. Do not allow the tomatoes to touch one another. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

Place in the oven and bake until the tomatoes are shriveled and feel dry, anywhere from 6 to 12 hours. Check the tomatoes from time to time: They should remain rather flexible, not at all brittle. Once dried, remove the tomatoes from the oven and allow them to thoroughly cool on cake racks. (Smaller tomatoes will dry more quickly than larger ones. Remove each tomato from the oven as it is dried.)

Transfer the tomatoes to zipper-lock bags. The tomatoes will last indefinitely.

Dried Tomato Powder
Use this product to add a punch of tomato flavor in soups and stews.

Follow the recipe above and then continue drying until tomatoes are crispy. Place fully dried tomatoes in to a food processor and grind until fully powdered. Store in an air-tight container.

Freezing:
Tomatoes may be frozen whole, sliced, chopped, or puréed. Additionally, you can freeze them raw or cooked, as juice or sauce, or prepared in the recipe of your choice. Thawed raw tomatoes may be used in any cooked-tomato recipe. Do not try to substituted them for fresh tomatoes, however, since freezing causes their texture to become mushy.

Tomatoes should be seasoned just before serving rather than before freezing; freezing may either strengthen or weaken seasonings such as garlic, onion, and herbs.

Select firm, ripe tomatoes for freezing. Sort the tomatoes, discarding any that are spoiled.

Always wash tomatoes before cutting them. After washing, cut away the stem scar and surrounding area and discard it before slicing or chopping the tomato.

Freezing whole tomatoes with peels: Prepare tomatoes as described above. Cut away the stem scar. Place the tomatoes on cookie sheets and freeze. Tomatoes do not need to be blanched before freezing. Once frozen, transfer the tomatoes from the cookie sheets into freezer bags or other containers. Seal tightly. To use the frozen tomatoes, remove them from the freezer a few at a time or all at once. To peel, just run a frozen tomato under warm water in the kitchen sink. Its skin will slip off easily.

Freezing peeled tomatoes: If you prefer to freeze peeled tomatoes, you can wash the tomatoes and then dip them in boiling water for about 1 minute or until the skins split. Peel and then freeze as noted above.

Canning:

Basic canned tomatoes are the number one home canned product in the country. Carefully read the USDA Guide to Home Canning or attend a Tomato Canning Class to be sure you have the most up to date information & technique before proceeding. Once you have mastered the basics, the sky is the limit.

Hot-Packed Crushed Tomatoes:

Wash jars in hot, soapy water and rinse well before using. Prepare metal lids as manufacturer directs.

Wash tomatoes well and drain. Dip in boiling water for 1-3 minutes or until the skins split. Then dip in ice water. Use a sharp knife to cut out the stem and all of the white core beneath the stem. Peel off the skin. Trim off any bruised or discolored portions. Chop into a large pot and bring the tomatoes to a boil for 5 minutes. Then pack tightly into prepared jars leaving a full 1/2 inch of headspace. Acidify each jar: 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in each quart jar or 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in each pint jar. Clean rim and apply warmed lid. Process in a boiling water canner for 35 minutes(pints) or 45 minutes(quarts).

After processing, carefully remove jars from canner and place on rack, dry towel or newspaper. Allow jars to cool untouched, away from drafts, for 12 to 24 hours before testing seals. To test jar seals, press flat metal lids at the center of lid. It should be slightly concave and not move. Remove screwbands. Label sealed jars with contents, canning method and date. Store in a clean, cool, dry, dark place. Seal Failure: if a jar fails to seal, put it in the fridge and use within 1 week.

Your Fancy Pantry:
Tomato products are the staple for most home canners and the variety of tomato based recipes available is pretty amazing. Step it up a notch and make some fancy stuff to savor during the cold months.

Tomato Juice
This product is far superior to any canned tomato juice--no metallic taste!

Wash, remove stems, and trim off bruised or discolored portions. To prevent juice from separating, quickly cut about 1 pound of fruit into quarters and put directly into saucepan. Heat immediately to boiling while crushing. Continue to slowly add and crush freshly cut tomato quarters to the boiling mixture. Make sure the mixture boils constantly and vigorously while you add the remaining tomatoes. Simmer 5 minutes after you add all pieces. If you are not concerned about juice separation, simply slice or quarter tomatoes into a large saucepan. Crush, heat, and simmer for 5 minutes before juicing.

Press both types of heated juice through a sieve or food mill to remove skins and seeds. Fill jars with hot tomato juice, leaving 1/2-inch headspace, Add bottled lemon juice- 2 tablespoons per quart or 1 tablespoon per pint. Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart to the jars, if desired. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water canner for 35 minutes(pints) or 40 minutes(quarts).

After processing, carefully remove jars from canner and place on rack, dry towel or newspaper. Allow jars to cool untouched, away from drafts, for 12 to 24 hours before testing seals. To test jar seals, press flat metal lids at the center of lid. It should be slightly concave and not move. Remove screwbands. Label sealed jars with contents, canning method and date. Store in a clean, cool, dry, dark place. Seal Failure: if a jar fails to seal, put it in the fridge and use within 1 week.

Tomato Paste
Can this recipe in small jars(half pints recommended) and use like the commercial product. 1 half pint will contain about 6.5 ounces of tomato paste.

Wash tomatoes well and drain. Dip in boiling water for 1-3 minutes or until the skins split. Then dip in ice water. Use a sharp knife to cut out the stem and all of the white core beneath the stem. Peel off the skin. Trim off any bruised or discolored portions. Cut tomatoes in half and arrange on a sheet pan in a single layer. Place the tomatoes in the oven at 175-200 degrees for 1-2 hours until shriveled and shrunken--Turn oven up to 350 for the last few minutes--slight browning and charring is desirable.

Press tomatoes through a sieve or food mill to remove seeds. Fill jars with hot tomato mash, leaving 1/2-inch headspace, Add bottled lemon juice- 1 1/2 teaspoon per half pint or 1 tablespoon per pint. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water canner for 35 minutes(half pints) or 45 minutes(pints).

After processing, carefully remove jars from canner and place on rack, dry towel or newspaper. Allow jars to cool untouched, away from drafts, for 12 to 24 hours before testing seals. To test jar seals, press flat metal lids at the center of lid. It should be slightly concave and not move. Remove screwbands. Label sealed jars with contents, canning method and date. Store in a clean, cool, dry, dark place. Seal Failure: if a jar fails to seal, put it in the fridge and use within 1 week.

Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic

Wash tomatoes well and drain. Dip in boiling water for 1-3 minutes or until the skins split. Then dip in ice water. Use a sharp knife to cut out the stem and all of the white core beneath the stem, squeeze out most of the seeds. Peel off the skin. Save the clean skins, seeds and cores. Trim off any bruised or discolored portions and discard separately. Cut tomatoes in half and arrange on a sheet pan in a single layer. Place the tomatoes in the oven at 175-200 degrees for 1-2 hours until shriveled and shrunken--Turn oven up to 350 for the last few minutes-- browning and charring is desirable.

Put clean cores, skins and seeds in a sauce pan with an equal amount of water and boil for 10 minutes. Blend until mostly smooth. Place this carefully into a sieve or jelly bag and catch the juice. When the pulp is cool enough to touch, squeeze out as much juice as you can.

Dice garlic, 1 clove of garlic for every 4-6 tomato halves that you have in the oven. Toss roasted tomatoes with diced garlic in a large bowl or pan.

Fill jars loosely with hot tomatoes & garlic, leaving 1 inch headspace, Add bottled lemon juice- 1 tablespoon per pint or 2 tablespoons per quart. Add prepared tomato juice leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water canner for 85(YES, 8-5) minutes(pints or quarts).

After processing, carefully remove jars from canner and place on rack, dry towel or newspaper. Allow jars to cool untouched, away from drafts, for 12 to 24 hours before testing seals. To test jar seals, press flat metal lids at the center of lid. It should be slightly concave and not move. Remove screwbands. Label sealed jars with contents, canning method and date. Store in a clean, cool, dry, dark place. Seal Failure: if a jar fails to seal, put it in the fridge and use within 1 week.

Variations:
Roasted Tomatoes with Cilantro: Omit garlic and add 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped cilantro for each 4-6 roasted tomatoes.

Roasted Tomatoes with Basil: Omit garlic and add 3 tablespoon of freshly chopped basil for each 4-6 roasted tomatoes.

Roasted Tomatoes with Jalapenos: Omit garlic and add 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped jalapeno pepper & seeds for each 4-6 roasted tomatoes. (Wear gloves when handling hot peppers!)

Roasted Tomatoes & Onions: Omit garlic and roast 1 small onion for each 4-6 roasted tomatoes. Chop onions and toss with tomatoes before jarring.

Bruschetta in a Jar
Use wide mouth half pints or pints and you will be able to dip bread right into the jar!

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp dried basil
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
9 cups chopped cored & peeled plum tomatoes

1. Prepare canner, jar and lids.
2. In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine garlic through balsamic vinegar. Bring to a full boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and boil gently for 5 minutes until garlic is heated through. Remove from heat.
3. Pack tomatoes into hot jars to within a generous 1/2 inch of top of jar. Ladle hot vinegar mixture into jar to cover tomatoes, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot liquid. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down tightly until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes(half pints) or 20 minutes(pints). Recipe from Ball.

Makes about seven half pint(8 ounce) jars.

After processing, carefully remove jars from canner and place on rack, dry towel or newspaper. Allow jars to cool untouched, away from drafts, for 12 to 24 hours before testing seals. To test jar seals, press flat metal lids at the center of lid. It should be slightly concave and not move. Remove screwbands. Label sealed jars with contents, canning method and date. Store in a clean, cool, dry, dark place. Seal Failure: if a jar fails to seal, put it in the fridge and use within 1 week.


Sweet Yellow Tomato Chutney

4 cups cider vinegar
9 cups chopped cored peeled tart green apples (about 9 medium)
12 cups chopped cored peeled yellow tomatoes (about 12 medium)
3 cups golden raisins
2-1/2 cups chopped onions (about 3 to 4 medium)
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3 chili peppers, such as jalapeño or hot banana (yellow wax), finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup mustard seeds
1 Tbsp finely chopped gingerroot
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt

1.) MEASURE vinegar into a large stainless steel saucepan. To prevent the apples from browning, drop them into the vinegar as they are being chopped, stirring to ensure all surfaces are covered.
2.) ADD tomatoes, raisins, onions, granulated sugar, brown sugar, chili peppers, garlic, mustard seeds, gingerroot, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until the chutney is thick enough to mound on a spoon, about 1 hour.
3.) PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
4.) LADLE hot chutney into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
Process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes(half pints) or 20 minutes(pints). Recipe from Ball.

Makes about seven half pint(8 ounce) jars.

After processing, carefully remove jars from canner and place on rack, dry towel or newspaper. Allow jars to cool untouched, away from drafts, for 12 to 24 hours before testing seals. To test jar seals, press flat metal lids at the center of lid. It should be slightly concave and not move. Remove screwbands. Label sealed jars with contents, canning method and date. Store in a clean, cool, dry, dark place. Seal Failure: if a jar fails to seal, put it in the fridge and use within 1 month.

Barbecue Sauce

20 cups chopped cored peeled tomatoes (about 21 medium)
2 cups finely chopped onions (about 3 to 4 medium)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp hot pepper flakes
1 Tbsp celery seeds
1-1/2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp salt
1-1/2 Tbsp ground mace or nutmeg
1 Tbsp dry mustard
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1.) COMBINE tomatoes, onions, garlic, hot pepper flakes and celery seeds in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, cover and boil gently until vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.
2.) TRANSFER mixture, working in batches, to a sieve placed over a glass or stainless steel bowl and press with the back of a spoon to extract all the liquid and pulp. This can also be done using a food mill. Discard solids.
3.) RETURN liquid and pulp to saucepan. Add brown sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, mace, mustard, ginger and cinnamon. Return to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture is thickened to the consistency of a thin commercial barbecue sauce, about 30 minutes.
4.) PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
5.) LADLE hot sauce into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
6.) PROCESS jars in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed. Recipe from Ball.

Makes 6 half pints

Blender Ketchup
Making ketchup seems a little strange to most people but if you have a lot of tomatoes, homemade ketchup is a nice addition to the pantry.

10-12 lbs ripe tomatoes
1 lb onions
1/2 lb sweet red peppers
1/2 lb sweet green peppers
4 1/2 cups vinegar (5 percent)
4 1/2 cups sugar
1/8 cup canning or pickling salt(optional)
2 tbsp dry mustard
1 tbsp ground red pepper
1 tsp whole allspice
1 tbsp whole cloves
1-2 sticks cinnamon

Wash tomatoes and dip in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins split. Then dip in cold water, slip off skins, core, and quarter. Remove seeds from peppers and slice into strips. Peel and quarter onion. Blend tomatoes, peppers, and onions at high speed for 5 seconds in electric blender. Pour into a 2- to 3-gallon stock pot or large kettle and heat. Boil gently 60 minutes, stirring frequently. Add vinegar, sugar, salt, and a spice bag containing dry mustard, red pepper, and other spices. Continue boiling and stirring until volume is reduced one-half and ketchup rounds up on a spoon with no separation of liquid and solids. Taste occasionally, you can add more spices and salt to taste. Remove spice bag and fill jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes(pints).

After processing, carefully remove jars from canner and place on rack, dry towel or newspaper. Allow jars to cool untouched, away from drafts, for 12 to 24 hours before testing seals. To test jar seals, press flat metal lids at the center of lid. It should be slightly concave and not move. Remove screwbands. Label sealed jars with contents, canning method and date. Store in a clean, cool, dry, dark place. Seal Failure: if a jar fails to seal, put it in the fridge and use within 1 month.

Makes about 4-5 pints

Seafood Cocktail Sauce

10 cups fresh plum (Roma) tomato puree
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
3 cloves garlic, minced
1&1/4 cups sugar
1 cup white vinegar
2 TBLS salt
2 TBLS Worchestershire sauce
2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 cups finely grated peeled horseradish

Place half of the tomato puree in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Maintaining a constant boil, add remaining tomato puree, 1 cup at a time. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced by at least half, about 30-60 minutes. Add everything else but the horseradish. Increase heat to high and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and immediately stir in horseradish. Be careful of those fumes!

Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Remove air bubbles if necessary. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes(pints).

After processing, carefully remove jars from canner and place on rack, dry towel or newspaper. Allow jars to cool untouched, away from drafts, for 12 to 24 hours before testing seals. To test jar seals, press flat metal lids at the center of lid. It should be slightly concave and not move. Remove screwbands. Label sealed jars with contents, canning method and date. Store in a clean, cool, dry, dark place. Seal Failure: if a jar fails to seal, put it in the fridge and use within 1 month.

Makes about 4-5 pints