Monday, August 4, 2008

Tomato Tips

Nutrition Summer and fall find tomatoes from the garden and farm markets plentiful. Tomatoes are nutritious, providing a good source of Vitamin A, and an excellent source of Vitamin C and potassium. Tomatoes are also rich in lycopene, the antioxidant that is protective against cancer, particularly prostate cancer in men. Storage Store tomatoes at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Unripe tomatoes can be placed in a paper bag to hasten ripening. At the end of the season, when frost is imminent, you can pick mature green tomatoes and store them for weeks in a dark, cool place. Place on a rack or individually wrapped in newspaper. Bring in to room temperature to ripen as needed. Preservation To further preserve tomatoes for future use, you can use a boiling water canner to process whole or halved tomatoes, tomato juice, salsa, plain tomato sauce or ketchup. Acidify with lemon juice or citric acid. For recipes that contain other vegetables, such as spaghetti sauce, a pressure canner must be used. Always use a standardized recipe from a reliable source and do not alter the ingredients. If the tomato product will be used in cooked form such as stews, soups or sauces, they can be frozen. Wash under cool running water, blot dry, and remove stem scar. To freeze with the skins on, place them on cookie sheets and freeze. Place into freezer bags or containers. To remove the skin, run warm water over the frozen tomato and the skin will slip right off. If you would prefer to remove the skins before freezing, blanch in boiling water for a minute until the skins split. Peel and freeze. Tomatoes can be frozen whole, chopped or pureed. Leave an inch of headspace for expansion in freezer container. Here is one of my favorite ways to use tomatoes and other late-summer vegetables. Spaghetti Salad 10 servings 1 # spaghetti 8 oz fat-free zesty Italian dressing ½ tsp oregano ½ tsp paprika ¼ tsp garlic powder 1 Tbsp sesame seeds 2 c vegetables, chopped (any combination of tomato, cucumbers, green peppers, celery, onion, etc) Cook spaghetti and drain. Add Italian dressing and stir thoroughly. Add spices, mixing continuously. Add vegetables and stir. Marinate in refrigerator overnight. For more information on food preservation of tomatoes and other foods, visit the Penn State website at

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