On Your Table: Savoring the last of summer, preserving your tomatoes

By Cathy Branciaroli, Food Correspondent , The Times

Tomato jam is a wonderful way of making summer tomatoes last longer.

If you’re like me you’ve been pampering garden tomatoes all summer, and guess what, now they’re all coming to harvest. What to do? I love to eat them like apples with a little salt sprinkled on. But really – what can one do to preserve this bountiful harvest?

Here’s how to make the best of that fresh tomato harvest – to store so you can enjoy for a few weeks longer.

Never put fresh tomatoes in the refrigerator.   Leave ripe tomatoes on the kitchen counter or in a cool basement till ready to eat   Beyond that, putting them in the warmest part of the refrigerator with the stem side down for a day or two will suffice and then let them come to room temperature before serving. Take them out of the bag if they were bought at the farm market because the ethylene gas emitted from the ripest ones will cause the others to spoil quicker.

Start eating them. And yes, they can be delicious at breakfast in omelets or with hash browns. Slice and chunk them with yogurt or on toast. They’re that good. Or douse with balsamic vinegar and salt with olive oil for a tasty lunch salad. Add shaved Parmesan cheese and maybe some diced chicken and you have salad for dinner.

I like to make tomato jam which helps preserve them for even longer. Of course you have to take sanitary measures. Or try homemade Bloody Mary mix made in a blender. Let tomatoes be tomatoes – mix with a pinch of salt, a bit of sugar for the jam.

Tomato Jam

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 4 half-pint jars, sterilized

Preparation

  1. Add the tomatoes to a blender or food processor. Pulse several times to create a puree.
  2. Transfer the tomato puree to a medium skillet set over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, and lemon zest. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick and jammy – this will take about an hour. Ladle the hot jam into sterilized jars which are prepared in boiling water. Turn upside down so that the lids which should be first-time used are fresh and create a tight seal. Store in the refrigerator. Alternately seal in a hot water bath for 20 minutes. The jam is delicious right away, but tastes even better after a few weeks on crackers.
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