Tomato patch

Home canning your tomatoes can help you save money and gain control over what is in your food.

Can you believe this is the end of August and soon our children will be returning to school? It also the time when we have lots of tomatoes that are ripen and ready for us to do something with them. Tomatoes come in assorted colors and assorted sizes, so you have a variety to select from.

Home canning your tomatoes can help you save money and gain control over what is in your food. If you need to purchase large quantities of tomatoes to make tomato juice or just can tomatoes, ask your farm producers about purchasing prices for canning tomatoes. These may not be the beautiful round tomatoes, but they will have the same qualities, not the beautiful shape.

When canning tomatoes and tomato products, start with vine-ripened, firm tomatoes. Do not use tomatoes that are overripe or beginning to spoil. If you use a defective product in canning, your results will be an inferior product. Canning does not change the taste. If you have lots of green tomatoes you need to use, they can be safely substituted for ripe tomatoes in USDA-approved recipes, but the taste of the final products will be different.

The Pulaski Extension Office and the Farmers Market have Canning Tomatoes publication that are available free to you. When using these recipes do not change the proportions of ingredients or reduce the amount of lemon juice or vinegar specified in each recipe. To ensure a safe level of acidity in the final product, use only bottled lemon juice and commercial vinegar that is at least 5 percent acidity.

Salt is optional in canning tomatoes and tomato products. It is used only for seasoning and does not help to preserve the food. If salt is used, canning salt is recommended to prevent cloudiness in the canned product. All vegetables with a high acid content can be safely processed in a boiling water canner. Low acid foods, such as green beans, must be processed in a pressure canner to reach temperatures high enough to kill the spores that can cause botulism.

Tomatoes are a high acid food. However, their natural acidity varies, depending on the variety, how and where they are grown, and their ripeness. For this reason, whole, crushed or juiced tomatoes must be acidified with bottled lemon juice or citric acid before processing in a boiling water bath canner.

There are two methods that can be used for packing tomatoes into the Mason canning jars—raw pack or hot pack. Raw pack means putting raw, unheated tomatoes into the jars; hot pack involves cooking or heating the food for a specified length of time before packing. Always use the type of pack specified in the recipe and the processing method and time that goes with that pack. If given a choice, the hot pack will yield better color and flavor, especially when processing in a boiling water canner.

There are no USDA approved conversions between boiling water canner and pressure canner processing times available to home canners. Some USDA-approved home canning recipes give you the option of using either a boiling water canner or a pressure canner. Whichever processing method you use, it is important to follow all the preparation steps and processing instructions given in the recipe.

If you are looking for different tomato recipes, the Extension has lots, and lots of tomatoes recipes free for you. A few are listed here: Bacon and Tomato Dip, Cucumber, Corn, and Bean Salsa, Farmer’s Market Skillet Bake, Summertime Sensation Casserole, Tomato Basil Bruschetta, and Zucchini Rosemary Pizza

Remember to use safe practices while shopping the farmers market. COVID is still around, and we want to keep everyone safe. Educational programs of Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

There are so many great dishes to make with tomatoes, especially if you add the addition of dough and cheese. The dough provides the ultimate platform for the salty cheese and the savory umami of a perfectly ripened tomato. Today you will find a recipe with that magical combination of cheese tomatoes and onions. It is delicious and you can use some of your tomatoes and home-grown onions. It will become one of your favorites.

Garden Fresh Tomato Pizza

Preheat oven to 475 degrees

2 large or 3 medium size tomatoes, sliced ¼ to ½ inch slices

Salt

1 prepared 12-inch pizza crust

2/3 cup of ricotta cheese or cottage cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons olive oil

½ small onion thinly sliced and separated into rings

Black pepper to taste

Wash tomatoes and onions, slice and set aside

Put sliced tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with paper towels

Sprinkle tomatoes with salt

Cover top of tomatoes with paper towels to absorb moisture in the tomatoes

Combine ricotta and mozzarella cheese with the garlic powder

Brush prepared pizza crust with olive oil

Spread the cheese mixture over the pizza

Add tomatoes and onions on top of cheese

Sprinkle with black pepper

Bake in oven until crust is golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes

Allow the pizza to rest 5 minutes

Slice and enjoy while hot

Canning publications and instructions on food preservation are available at the Extension Office. Also have your canning gauge checked free. Bring your lid in.

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