The Sumptuous Tomato: Part Two: Choose only the best and preserve only at peak ripeness
Updated: Sep 1, 2021
When canning or freezing summer’s most ubiquitous fruit, success largely depends on two factors: where you source your tomatoes and the patience to let them ripen to absolute peak maturity before processing.
The tomatoes must be fresh picked, never shipped, refrigerated, or (gasp!) gassed. Hooray if you are growing your own but few have that luxury. ideally, make friends with a local farmer, find a farm market, join a produce club, but only use local fruit. It’s available if you look for it.
My farmer sells me 1/2 bushels of “canners”, which are just tomatoes considered to have imperfect shapes or other minor imperfections, thus rendering them “unsuitable “ to be sold each by each.
When I get the tomatoes they will be in varied stages of ripeness. So I dump them all into the sink for a big wash, and as I dry them I sort them on trays or towels in varying degrees of anticipated ripening. And settle in for a week or so of canning batches.
It’s vital that you only process fully ripe tomatoes. This means the fruit is fiery red, no green, orange or yellow color in sight, and is juicy and heavy in your hand.
If it’s not ripe enough for you to adore it on a sandwich or straight up with salt and pepper and basil…we’ll, it’s not worth canning yet.