Savor the taste of summer tomatoes

Preserve the fresh flavor of summer tomatoes by canning, freezing or dehydrating them.

Tomatoes are finally in season! Freshly harvested tomatoes are juicy and sweet. So how can we capture that fresh tomato flavor all year long? Preserve that fresh flavor by canning, freezing or dehydrating them. 

When canning tomatoes, whether they are whole, crushed or juiced, two tablespoons of lemon juice per quart or one tablespoon per pint must be added in order to assure the acid content of the canned tomatoes is high enough to prevent botulism spores from producing toxins which can be deadly.

Tomato sauce and paste is made by cooking down tomatoes until enough liquid has evaporated to thicken the sauce. First the quartered tomatoes are crushed and simmered for about 5 minutes. The cooked mixture is pressed through a sieve or food mill to remove skins and seeds. Then the tomato juice is simmered until the volume is reduced by a third to a half. Tomato paste is made in a similar process. Always follow a tested recipe for making these products. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has instructions and recipes for making tomato sauce and paste.

Making salsa from fresh tomatoes is very popular. Fresh salsa that will be kept in the refrigerator for a short period of time can be made from original recipes. However, for safety, any salsa that will be canned for shelf stable storage must be made from a tested recipe. Recipes are available from university extension organisations such as University of Wisconsin Extension or the United States Department of Agriculture Canning Guide. 

Freezing tomatoes is a simple way to save them for use in soups, spaghetti sauce or stews. To remove skins, wash and dip in boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen skins. Core and peel. They can be frozen whole or in pieces. 

Tomatoes can also be dehydrated. For instructions, visit Colorado State University Extension’s website.

Whatever method you choose, always follow instructions for the best product possible. For more information on food preservation, contact Michigan State University Extension.  

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