Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How to Always Have a Tasty Tomato

I don’t know about you, but years ago, after having enough tasteless tomatoes out of season, I decided to not buy them in the winter or early spring. This worked really well for me as I learned to adapt over these months with other fruits like oranges (they’re in season, but travel a long way to get to me) or canned tomatoes (which I no longer buy). There’s also the option of buying chopped tomatoes or sauces in tetrapaks, which I occasionally buy if I absolutely need tomato.

This article on npr.org explains why tomatoes out of season are not worth the purchase or the consumption and why, if you’re living in a temperate climate, you should consider not eating them out of season. Some of what they say ties into yesterday’s post about quantity versus quality of crops. However, with a little planning, there are a couple of ways of getting tasty tomatoes (not suitable for salad though) for at least a portion of the winter.

Buy tomatoes in season when they are ripe (or grow your own) and:

Freeze them whole. This is a trick a friend told me about that is the quickest way to store tomatoes. It works well if you want to use them later to make sauce or add them to soups. During the thawing process, they can be chopped and added to your recipe with the juices. Here’s a video that explains the process.

Blend or grind them into a raw sauce and freeze them this way. Then you can defrost and add the liquid directly to your dish. You can also can them instead. I’ve never done this before, but would love to hear from someone who has. Here’s a site that shows the step-by-step instructions.

Make your own sauce and freeze or can it. This is the old standby if you have the time to make the sauce. Although, in the middle of the summer heat, the last thing we want to do is run the stove for multiple hours at a time. This is why I like the second option better, since I can warm up the house with the stove in the colder months.

Do you preserve tomatoes for the winter? If so, what’s your favorite way to prepare them?

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