For some, security is having enough jars of strawberry jam, for others it’s having a root cellar full of potatoes. For us, it’s having enough canned tomatoes to fill an entire shelf in the pantry. Tomato season is the one we watch the most closely, for it can be cruelly brief. This year’s harvest is late, and what hasn’t succumbed to disease will be curtailed by rapidly cooling weather. The time is now, and we’ve rearranged our schedules, pulled out the canning gear, and obligingly buy tomatoes in bulk.
Crushed tomatoes are a quick way to get them canned without too much fuss — slip the skins off, cut in quarters, cook briefly, then jar up and process in a boiling water bath, 35 minutes for pints or 45 minutes for quarts. Processing time is even shorter with a pressure canner, a mere 10 minutes at 15 PSI.
Paste tomatoes are ideal — 10 pounds gave us 9 pints crushed — though slicing and heirloom varieties may also be processed this way. Packed in their own juices, crushed tomatoes prove their versatility in all manner of soups, stews, casseroles and other cooked dishes as we make our way through the year.
Canned tomato sauce is another pantry staple. Again, paste tomatoes will yield the most jars, however, we include heirlooms for a more complex and deeper-flavored sauce. To keep things flexible, we keep seasoning on the simple side — just onions, garlic and basil.
As for the yellow tomatoes showing up at market, these can also be preserved as you would any of the red ones. Here, we’ve made another batch of sauce, this time unseasoned, and imagine how much it’ll brighten a mid-winter meal served over pasta or in a lemon lentil soup.
Learn more at our upcoming class, Pressure Canning Tomatoes on Tuesday, September 24th, from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. This hands-on workshop will take you through the basic steps of canning and processing tomatoes, while using a pressure canner — become familiar with pressure canning, and add vegetables, meats, and stocks to your canning pantry! Hosted by Kittery Adult Education through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Online registration (open to non-residents):
• Let’s Preserve: Tomatoes, UMaine Cooperative Extension
• Crushed Tomatoes (with no added liquid), National Center for Food Preservation
• Seasoned Tomato Sauce — Seasoned/Unseasoned, Clemson Cooperative Extension
• Video: How to Freeze Tomatoes, UMaine Cooperative Extension