Delicious tomatoes are now in season

Tips for storing and including fresh and nutritious tomatoes in your meals this summer.

A favorite vegetable that is appearing in farmer’s markets and gardens around this time of year is the tomato. In addition to its delicious reminder of summer freshness, tomatoes also pack a bounty of nutritional goodness. The United States Department of Agriculture SNAP-Ed Connection reports that tomatoes can provide vitamin C for healthy gums, skin and blood and potassium to help maintain normal blood pressure. Plus the antioxidant lycopene which may prevent certain types of cancer. Since tomatoes are also low in calories they become a great nutrient-dense choice. Tomatoes can be eaten raw, used to make a fresh salsa or cooked as a sauce and added to your favorite pizza or pasta.

Storing tomatoes

It is best to keep tomatoes out of the cold, only refrigerate them when keeping them for extended periods of time. Information about the preservation of tomatoes can be found on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website. Remember, when canning tomatoes it is vitally important to acidify the tomatoes. Here is their important message:

Acidification: To ensure safe acidity in whole, crushed, or juiced tomatoes, add two tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes. For pints, use one tablespoon bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid. Acid can be added directly to the jars before filling with product. Add sugar to offset acid taste, if desired. Four tablespoons of a 5 percent acidity vinegar per quart may be used instead of lemon juice or citric acid. However, vinegar may cause undesirable flavor changes.

Try making your own fresh salsa

As tomatoes enter the market Michigan State University Extension recommends trying your hand at a new or family favorite recipe using fresh tomatoes. Here’s a fresh salsa recipe from USDA foods. Enjoy this as a great snack or as part of a meal.

Ingredients

1 cup tomatoes (finely chopped or 1/2 can, about 8 ounces, low-sodium diced tomatoes)

1/2 cup apple (peeled and finely chopped)

1/4 cup onion (finely chopped)

2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice

1 teaspoon garlic (finely chopped)

1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 tablespoon fresh parsley or cilantro (chopped, optional)

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper or jalapeño chilies (chopped, optional)

Directions

1. In a medium-size bowl, combine tomato, apple, onion and lime juice (or lemon juice). Mix well. 2. Add garlic, vegetable oil, and salt to bowl. If using parsley, cilantro, cayenne pepper, or jalapeño chilies, add them too. Mix well. 3. Cover bowl and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Serve cold.

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