What’s old is new again and that includes canning. With the surge of interest in gardening, farmers markets and food security, it stands to reason that urban gardeners are interested in putting up their produce.

Once we’ve preserved an ample supply of basil, we turn our attention to tomatoes and different methods of putting them up – canning, drying and freezing.

Canning, or more appropriately called jarring since we now use jars instead of cans, is one easy way to preserve fruits and vegetables. Although it may seem daunting at first, canning is a relatively simple (albeit time consuming and sometimes messy) process. Heat tomatoes, place in sterile jars, process in hot water bath, cool and enjoy later. Easy, right?

Good resources on home canning can be found at USDA’s Guide to Home Canning and  Canning Across America. First published in 1909, the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving is a classic resource book.

Oven drying is another option – this is good for paste tomatoes and for meatier cherry tomatoes like Juliets. Cut tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds (a grapefruit spoon is helpful). Toss tomatoes in some olive oil, salt and pepper and place cut side up on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at the lowest oven temperature for about six hours until the tomatoes are dark and leathery. Store in air tight containers. These are great on salads, pizza or just eaten like candy.

Freezing is another easy option – you can freeze your tomatoes sliced, chopped or pureed. You can also freeze them raw or cooked, plain or in a sauce. Begin by washing the tomatoes, remove the skin,  core and removing the seeds.  Slice, chop, puree, cook etc then freeze in heavy duty zip lock bags.

Whatever the method, you’ll appreciate the reminder of summer’s bounty during the coming winter months.

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