Most everyone has more tomatoes than they know what to do with now. We eat them everyday with cottage cheese, as a fresh mozzarella caprese salad, or just with salt and pepper. But when the counters are full, it’s time to preserve this awesome flavor for later in the year when the snow flies. Many people can tomatoes using a boiling water bath. This was safe when the acid count in our tomatoes was higher. Now some varieties have an acid count that is too low for this to be a safe method. It’s best to get all the info you can before taking on this method. Search the National Center for Home Food Preservation; they cover everything you need to know to can food safely.
I freeze, as it is the easiest method for me. I can freeze 8-10 quarts that will get me through the winter. Use Ziploc quart size freezer bags. Wash the tomatoes, choosing ones with no bad spots. Make a small X with a sharp knife in the bottom of the tomato. Place in a large pot of simmering water. After a minute or two, you will see the skin loosen. Transfer to an ice water bath. Place a large colander in a large bowl and peel the tomatoes over the colander. The colander will hold the skins and stem ends as you peel and core; while saving any juice in the bowl below. Quarter the tomatoes and place in the bags. Don’t forget the extra juice! Fill the bags but leave a little space for expansion during freezing. Make sure to squeeze out as much air as possible. This tomato bag is equivalent to a 29oz can of tomatoes.
Another easy way to preserve tomatoes is to freeze a homemade fresh sauce. Peel and core 6 large or 8 medium tomatoes and set aside. Heat 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté a medium diced onion, about 1/2 a cup. When soft, add 4 chopped garlic cloves and cook till fragrant. Add the tomatoes, along with one teaspoon each red pepper flakes and oregano. Salt to taste. Fresh tomatoes will need a little more salt than canned. Simmer for 5 minutes. This sauce is delicious! Serve on pasta with meatballs or Italian sausage or on its own. Top with fresh grated parmesano Reggiano and serve with crusty bread. I freeze the sauce in 16 oz freezer containers.
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO