It’s hard to believe that all the bumpy, rumply, plump heirloom tomatoes at farmers markets and salad plates will soon cease to be. The season should continue for another few weeks, before colder conditions will halt the vines’ production at local farms. We’ll have a new cheerful crop to embrace by then — pumpkins! — but while they’re still around, it’s a great time to savor the tomato.
It’s a wise idea to capture the summery flavor for safekeeping right now. You can put up tomato sauce, jams and chutneys, or just plain old peeled tomatoes in jars while they’re abundant to pop open throughout the year. The flavor of these fresh tomatoes, ripe and in season, will carry through when preserved correctly, and trump that of any store-bought canned versions. Choose tomatoes that are a little soft in bulk bags at the Greenmarket — these are a much better bargain, and are great for sauce-making anyway. Or, a colorful mixture of cherry or grape tomatoes will cook down quickly and make for an attractive jar-as-home-decoration piece. Here are a few tips aside:
Don’t refrigerate your tomatoes before using unless they’re already very overripe; the cold temperature will make the flesh mealy rather than juicy and supple, and stop the ripening process.
To get rid of the thin tomato peels, plunge the tomatoes whole in boiling water for about thirty seconds. Afterward, they’re easy to peel with the help of a paring knife.
Add only very little if any oil to your tomatoes when putting up in jars, and always add one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to every pint to ensure the pH level is low enough for preserving. You can always add more oil once you’ve opened the jar to use the tomatoes.
Get in on a deal on 20 lbs of tomatoes for $35 from the Brooklyn Kitchen now until mid-October. The store also sells mason jars and canning lessons
You can always freeze a quart or two of tomato sauce if there’s room in your freezer instead.
Here are a few less-conventional recipes for saving those tomatoes for a later use:
Brooklyn Green Tomato Chutney (courtesy of Anarchy In A Jar)
Yellow Tomato and Basil Jam (courtesy of Food In Jars)
Eggplant and Tomato Caponata (courtesy of Not Eating Out In New York)