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Can It! Easy Ways to Preserve Summer Tomatoes

September 2, 2010

Are you dying over the tomatoes available at our farmers markets these days? They are gorgeous! At the Fort Greene Greenmarket, my local spot, the selection is staggering. It’s hard not to walk away with many bags full. So I don’t! And neither should you. Fill your bags up, friends, because I’ve got tips on preserving gorgeous summer tomatoes.

Oh stop! I hear you now. You don’t have the time or skills to preserve. Not true. It’s easy! And I’m not saying that as the Hungry Mama who would happily cook all day if she could. (I know I’m in the minority on that one.) I’m saying it as a busy mom of two kids, who fits work in between naps and needs to be completely motionless by 9 pm. It’s that girl who’s promising you that preserving tomatoes is easy. So trust me and let’s get to it.

Freezer Preserved Tomatoes
The absolute easiest way to preserve tomatoes is in your freezer. If you have the room and you’re nervous—or just don’t want to take the time or buy the supplies—to can, this is your best bet. You can even use the microwave as a shortcut that has absolutely no negative impact on taste. How’s that for easy? Hop on over to food blog In Jennie’s Kitchen, written by a fellow Brooklyn mom and food blogger, for details.

Canned Tomatoes
Canning is pretty simple once you have the supplies. If you’re just doing tomatoes—and I’m assuming you’re not going to jump into doing a 25 lb batch (though I hope I’m wrong!)—all you need is about an hour and a half of concentrated kitchen time. If you’re a fast mover, maybe less. Though freezing is easier, I prefer canning since I can store the jars on any shelf, but it depends on where you have more room: the freezer or the cabinets. Also, if you’re feeling crafty, I like that you can tie a pretty ribbon around jars and give them as holiday gifts. How’s that for multi-tasking (and money saving)?!

There are tons of online sources of canning info, but many can make the process seem daunting. Start with Simple Bites, one of my favorite food sites. They recently ran a Canning 101 that explains why you should can and what you’ll need, and follow up with a Home Canned Tomatoes how-to. It’s to the point in only 18 quick, one- to two-sentence steps.

I also love this Tomatoes in a Jar how-to by canning expert (and all around fab food blogger) Mrs. Wheelbarrow.

If you want more, check out the new food community Punk Domestics. It’s a great source of info on all things canning and pickling, with a ton of resources to guide you through techniques for preserving your tomatoes. It led me to this post with step-by-step pictures and a how-to video on The Bitten Word and this one for canned whole tomatoes (use plum tomatoes and skip the step of crushing them—one less thing to do!) on The Kitchenette.

Super into it? I’ve got one more thing for you new enthusiasts: super pretty, design conscious home canning supplies curated by the always fabulous Black*Eiffel

So, go ahead, CAN IT! You’ll thank me in January.

Kids change the way we cook, but they don’t have to change how well we eat. Get more family-friendly recipes, tips and techniques on Stacie’s blog,
One Hungry Mama.