The tomatoes in my garden are ripening at a furious pace. I have eaten my fill of BLT’s, Caprese Salads and freshly sliced tomatoes. It is now time to start roasting these luscious fruits to enjoy on pizzas and over pasta this winter. My favorite way to roast tomatoes is to core them and slice them into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place these in a single layer in a jelly roll pan that has been coated with olive oil. Sprinkle the tops of these tomatoes with more olive oil, dried oregano, a teaspoon or two of sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Roast uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on the degree of caramelization you desire. When cool, scoop them into quart sized freezer bags marked with the product name and date and place into freezer. Of course, you can adjust this to your personal preference – adding other herbs (basil, thyme, cayenne pepper, etc.) or perhaps sliced onions and/or peppers. Be creative and enjoy!
If you are starting to run out of room in the freezer you may want to think about canning some tomatoes this summer. Once you have acidified the tomatoes, it is safe to process them in a boiling water bath canner. You need 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice per pint and 2 tablespoons per quart of tomato product. These same amounts of acid are required regardless of the tomato product you are canning-unless you are making salsa. Salsas have different requirements and you should always use a tested recipe to make them.
There are several different methods you can use to can tomatoes once you have skinned them.
- Crush and cook them tomatoes; this method will prevent separation in the finished product.
- Leave the tomatoes whole or halve them and pack them in water.
- Leave the tomatoes whole or halve them and pack them in tomato juice.
- Pack whole tomatoes into a jar, pressing them until all the space between the tomatoes is filled with juice.
These methods have slightly different processing times and can be processed in either the boiling water bath canner or in a pressure canner. Remember that the tomatoes must be acidified to produce a safe product no matter which type of canner you choose.
We also have tested recipes available for stewed tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato sauce, tomato paste, tomato catsup, barbeque sauce, chili sauce, hot sauce, and spaghetti sauce.
Enjoy the taste of your garden tomatoes long into the winter.
It’s getting to be that time of summer again; tomatoes everywhere. After you have eaten your fill of tomatoes it is time to start preserving them. Remember that unblemished fruits and vegetables make the best quality preserved foods.
Freezing tomatoes, to me, is just about the easiest vegetable (or is it a fruit?) to preserve. I drop the tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds, slip off the skins, and then place the tomatoes on a cookie sheet to freeze overnight. After they are frozen solid, I place the tomatoes into a large freezer bag. That way I can easily use just one or two tomatoes in soup next winter.
Just about this time every summer we start getting calls about salsa. Salsa is one of those foods that brings out the creative side of people. It is not uncommon to get questions about how long to process the salsa recipe they just created, or the salsa recipe they got from a friend. Our answer is always the same. It is important to use a tested recipe when canning homemade salsa. The ratio of low acid vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, onion, and garlic) to acid (lemon juice, lime juice, or vinegar) has not been calculated in a non-tested recipe. Tested recipes contain enough acid to prevent the growth of the botulism bacteria and provide a safe product that can be enjoyed straight from the canning jar. Non-tested recipes may be safe but there is no real way to know that in advance of eating the salsa. The risk of botulism poisoning is not known but the result of the illness can be death or prolonged illness. NO salsa is worth that risk.
You can safely freeze any salsa recipe you can devise so we advise callers to freeze salsa recipes of their own creation instead of canning. We have a number of tested salsa recipes and we are happy to share them with you. Contact us at AnswerLine for these recipes.
This time of year it seems that everyone has a favorite recipe for salsa. Salsa is a fun and easy product to make. Salsas are combinations of acidic and low acid vegetables. The onions, peppers, and garlic are low acid foods. Producing a safe product that can be home canned means you must add enough of the right type of acid to prevent the growth of botulism bacteria. The best way to ensure a safe salsa is to carefully follow a tested recipe. You can find tested recipes in several places. The USDA canning guide, the National Center for Home Food Preservation, and Extension publications like Preserve the Taste of Summer.
Here are a few helpful tips to remember:
- Use high quality tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic. Canning won’t improve the quality of the ingredients.
- Remember not to increase the total volume of peppers. You can substitute one variety of pepper for another—to make a hotter or milder salsa.
- Use the acid listed in the recipe; bottled lemon juice, vinegar with 5% acidity, or lime juice.
- Spices may be adjusted to taste flavoring. It is really the only safe ingredient to change in a tested recipe.
- Using a tested recipe allows you to process a safe salsa in a boiling water bath canner. If you choose to use a recipe of your own, remember that you can safely freeze that salsa, but you cannot home can it.
- Don’t thicken salsa before canning. As you open jars of your salsa, you can thicken it or pour off excess liquid.