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CSA Adventures: Tomato Recipes and Canning Tips

Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

CSA Adventures: Tomato Recipes and Canning Tips

Game over, grocery store tomatoes. We’ll see you in the fall.

Local tomatoes are in season and there’s nothing like them. This year, my CSA delivered heirloom tomatoes in more colors than a pack of Crayolas and all sizes. Some were perfect for popping like candy and others for sandwiches and cooking.

One of the best thing about tomatoes is you don’t need to do much to make a great tasting dish. Some great tomato recipes are:

  • Classic BLT – Between my meat and vegetable CSAs, I had the B, the L and the T covered. I just needed to buy bread. While it’s certainly not local to New Hampshire, you can’t go wrong by adding avocado.
  • Bruschetta – The tomatoes are the star in this appetizer or side dish. And it’s so simple to make, especially if you skip peeling the tomatoes like I do. I also added a little bit of mozzarella to the bruschetta.
  • Ratatouille – One of our readers commented on our eggplant post and suggested making ratatouille, which I did the other night. It was a great way to use the wide range of seasonal veggies I had in the fridge after a late night at work when I all I wanted something simple, light and healthy before bed.
  • Tomatoes and Hummus – Cherry tomatoes dipped in red pepper hummus have become a staple in my lunches this summer. I usually bring cucumbers or carrots too for variety.

bushel tomatoesIn addition to the CSA tomatoes, I bought a half bushel (about 26 pounds) of tomatoes from a local farm for canning. Since we go through a jar of salsa nearly every week at my house, this year, I wanted to make my own. I also liked the idea of making salsa because I wouldn’t need to peel every tomato. Last year, when I got a half bushel of peaches, I experienced how tedious it was to peel every single one and did not want to do that with tomatoes. (That said, the canned peaches were delicious and I will be making them again this week.)

With the tomatoes, I made two types of salsa: Ball’s zesty salsa and fresh salsa. I still had quite a few tomatoes left and probably could have made another batch, but I didn’t feel like chopping anymore. So we’re eating them … after a week, we still have a handful left but I’m not complaining.

If you want to can tomatoes, there are some things to consider:

  • Get a recipe from a  trusted source and follow it. Tomatoes are lower in acid than many fruits that are typically canned. That means that preserving tomatoes safely requires adding the right amount of acid (often in the form of lemon juice or vinegar) to the right amount of tomatoes and other foods in recipe.
  • Buy canning tomatoes in bulk. Many farms sell canning tomatoes – ones with few seeds – in large quantities. And it pays to buy in bulk. The half bushel I bought was only $15, but the individual tomatoes were $2.50 per pound. It’ll cost a small fortune if you buy loose tomatoes to make big batches of sauces or salsas.
  • The tomatoes may need to ripen. If you have a specific day set aside for your canning project, you may need to buy the tomatoes a few days in advance to allow them to ripen. I’ve never made pasta sauce, but I’ve heard you can increase your yield quite a bit by letting them ripen. Some of the tomatoes I got were already ripe while others benefited from sitting out for a day or two. This worked well with my schedule. I was able to make one batch of salsa right away and the other later in the week.

Nicole’s favorite recipe is a fire-roasted tomato salsa. It’s a bit more work than the recipes I used but she swears it’s worth it. What’s your favorite tomato recipe?

Kim is an eco enthusiast who tries to make small changes that will add up and make a difference.

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