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Connecticut Garden Journal: Preserving Tomatoes

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Preserving tomatoes

Every September I break out the hot water bath pot and start canning tomatoes. This is something I remember my mom doing every year and it always seemed she'd choose the hottest, most humid days to can her tomatoes. I still can in honor of Angela, but also because I love the taste of canned tomatoes in winter sauces and soups. I've changed mom's recipe to make it a little easier. I can tomatoes sliced in quarters with the skin on. I find I can break down the tomato skins quickly in a blender just before using them in winter. I can a mix of pints and quarts for various recipes. I still drop a large basil leaf in the jar and really pack the tomatoes into the jar just like mom. The hot water bath method is simple. Check websites, such as the University of Connecticut Extension Service, for up-to-date canning information.

Another way to preserve the harvest is drying. We mostly dry herbs, although with a dehydrator you can also dry many vegetables including tomatoes. Collect herb stems and hang them upside down in an airy, shaded room. They'll dry well and can be stored in glass jars for 6 months.

We also freeze much of our bounty. I like making a fruit shake almost every morning year round. So, we freeze lots of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, currants and honey berries for my shakes. But we also freeze tomatoes, sweet corn and leeks for winter use.

So, consider preserving some of your harvest so you cook with home-grown produce in January.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.