It's Tomato Season.....

Buying and Storing Tomatoes

As long as they are kept at room temperature, tomatoes picked at the mature green stage will finish ripening in supermarkets and after you purchase them. Within a few days, they will soften slightly, turn red and?most important of all?develop their full flavor and aroma.

To avoid interrupting this process, place the tomatoes on a counter or in a shallow bowl at room temperature until they are ready to eat.
When tomatoes are chilled below 55° F, the ripening comes to a halt and the flavor never develops.

To speed up the process, keep tomatoes in a brown paper bag or closed container to trap the ethylene gas that helps them ripen. Adding an ethylene-emitting apple or pear to the container can also hasten ripening. Store the tomatoes in a single layer and with the stem ends up, to avoid bruising the delicate “shoulders.”

Once they are fully ripened, tomatoes can be held at room temperature or refrigerated for several days. When you?re ready to use them, bring the tomatoes back to room temperature for fullest flavor.

Tomato Techniques

To peel: Fill a saucepan with enough water to cover tomatoes; bring to a boil. Immerse tomatoes about 30 seconds; drain and cool. Remove stem ends and slip off skins.

To seed: Cut tomatoes in half crosswise. Gently squeeze each half, using your fingers to remove seeds. To reserve the juice for use in dressings, sauces or soups, seed the tomato into a strainer held over a bowl.

Tomato Shells: Cut a 1/2 inch slice off the stem end of each tomato. Using a spoon, scoop out the pulp.

Roast: Preheat oven to 450° F. Halve tomatoes crosswise. Place halves, cut side down, on a shallow baking pan; brush with oil. Roast until lightly browned, about 20 minutes; cool. Remove skins and stem ends.

Slow-Cook: Preheat oven to 300° F. Remove stem ends; slice tomatoes. Place slices on a shallow baking pan; brush with oil. Cook until tomatoes soften and shrink, about 45 minutes.

Tomato Equivalents:

1 small tomato = 3 to 4 ounces
1 medium tomato = 5 to 6 ounces
1 large tomato = 7 or more ounces
1 pound of tomatoes = 2 1/2 cups chopped or 1 1/2 cups pulp

And how! I just got through canning some (30 quarts) tomatoes. To peel, I bring them to a boil, let boil for about a minute then plunge into a bowl of ice water. They peel super easy. Then just cook until they come to a boil for a few minutes and put into sterilized jars add some salt, wipe off rim of jar, put on lids and rings; tighten and let cool to seal. Have been doing this for over 30 years and never lost a jar yet.

This is how I do canned tomatoes.

I bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Cut an “X” (just through the skin of the tomato) at the bottom end of the tomatoe. Drop into boiling water for about 30 seconds or until tomatoes peel easily. Remove. The ends of the “X” curl up and make it easy to peel off. The tomatoe peels in 4 sections easily, then cut off the stem part. Put peeled tomatoes into a large stock pot.

After all tomatoes have been peeled and put into the stock pot, I add celery, onions, green and red peppers, jalapeno peppers, garlic, shredded carrot (to help with the acid from the tomatoes - u can always use sugar if u want), salt and pepper.

I let this simmer for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. During last hour, I add my spices: cumin, oregano, thyme, little paprika, dried parsley, and basil.

Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal.

This is great when you want a quick spaghetti sauce that tastes like it has simmered for hours but u only have 30 minutes to make supper. Because you’ve simmered it for hours before canning, you get a great spaghetti sauce in a jiffy without adding a thing!

I made this using Manitoba tomatoes a few years ago. This year, I’m using Roma tomatoes from my garden, and yellow and red bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, celery, onions - all from the garden… can’t wait!