Saturday, August 21, 2010

Different Ways to Preserve Tomatoes

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I don’t feel like eating any more gazpacho, or salsa, or tomato sauce. And I don’t know about you, but I have trouble buying tomatoes in the off season, knowing they aren’t as fresh and have little flavor (I know, I’m spoiled from being a vegetable farmer. . . ) So, I often try to preserve some of my tomato harvest for later use. Canning is a classic way to preserve your tomatoes, but it takes a great deal of both time and attention to detail. So, here are a few other interesting ways to save your tomatoes.


I was skeptical of this tomato preservation method, but apprentice Danielle tried it last season with great success. She would just cut her tomatoes into quarters, stick them in a freezer bag, and freeze—later, when making tomato sauce or other recipes that call for cooked tomatoes, she would just dethaw and use the frozen tomatoes. This is not recommended for dethawing and trying to eat the tomatoes fresh- the consistency is a little off. However, it works really well for cooked tomatoes in recipes.

The following recipes all come from Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning, one of my favorite books. The next recipe is for fermented tomatoes. Some of you know that fermenting foods is a slight obsession of mine.
Tomato Balls

Ripe tomatoes
A fine strainer
A finely woven cloth
A screen
Canning jars and lids

Pick a good amount of tomatoes that have ripened well in the sun. Cut them in half, squeezing lightly to release any water, and put them in a jar. Set the jar outside in the sun (bring them in at night) until they begin to foam and smell a bit fermented.
Pass the tomatoes through a very fine strainer, rubbing it through with your fingers. Collect the strained portion; place it in a clean, finely woven cloth; hang it ouside in the sin until you get a paste dry enough to be shaped into balls. Let the balls dry on a screen in the sun. Then add salt, and put them in a canning jar. Cover them with oil, season with herbs to your taste, and close the jar.
-Jennifer Rocchia, Beaurecueil

Preserving with salt

Whole tomatoes preserved in brine

Olive oil
A saucepan
Glass jars and lids

Make a brine (one-quarter cup salt to one quart of water), and bring it to a boil. Allow to cool. Choose firm tomatoes, preferably (Editor’s note: paste tomatoes are great for this), wash and dry them carefully, and put them in glass jars. Pour in the cooled brine, up to one and a quarter inches below the rim, and fill in the remaining space with olive oil to cover. Close the jars airtight and store them in a cool place.
These tomatoes will keep for nine to ten months; use them for sauces.
-Jean-Yves Cousseau, Millau.

Tomato Chutney

2 lbs. tomatoes, scalded, peeled, and chopped
2 medium-sized onions, thinly slices
3 apples, peeled and diced
1 ½ cups brown sugar
½ cup raisins
2 cups cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cayenne peppers, dried and finely chopped
6 cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
An enamel or stainless steel saucepan
Canning jars and lids

Prepare all the ingredients and put them in an enamel or stainless steel pan. Slowly bring to a boil and continue simmering over low heat, uncovered. Stir from time to time. The mixture will gradually thicken; when done, it should resemble a thick jam. This could take up to three hours or more.
Put the chutney into jars. Close and store in a cool, dry, place.
-Jeannette Busiaux, L’Etang-la-Ville

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