Just in time for the beginnings of the tomato harvest, the Master Food Preservers of El Dorado County present the next free public education class for this year, “Tomatoes-Basic and Fancy.”
This class includes demonstrations and instructions for the safe home food preservation of tomatoes and tomato-based products, such as salsa, bruchetta and sun-dried tomatoes. Come and learn how to properly can all types of tomato products.
In years past, the acidity of tomatoes seemed sufficient for home canning. Not today. Tomatoes now vary greatly in acidity levels, with many factors responsible for this.
New tomato varieties are grown for sweeter fruit; stressful growing conditions may affect acid levels; and combining tomatoes with other low acid ingredients may result in a product that cannot be safely canned at home.
To insure that tomatoes and tomato products are safely canned, home food preservationists must add acid to the product before processing.
Commercial lemon juice or citric acid provide enough acid to do the job. Do not use fresh lemons, as the acidity level cannot be guaranteed, and some peel or pulp may contaminate the juice when it is squeezed.
Recipes from reliable sources, such as universities, canning product manufacturers and U.S. government catalogs and Websites, have been checked and tested for proper acid levels.
Enhance canned tomatoes by adding different spices before processing. This Italian spice blend recipe really peps up tomatoes that may be used in Italian recipes, such as lasagna.
Italian spice blend (dried herbs)
Yield enough spice for six pint jars
4 teaspoons basil
1 ½ teaspoons rosemary
2 teaspoon thyme
1 ½ teaspoons sage
2 ½ teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (optional)
Mix spice evenly. To each pint jar add 1¼ teaspoons spice blend. If omitting pepper flakes, use 2 teaspoons spice blend per jar.
Source: adapted from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving
Publications relating to tomatoes and other fresh summer produce that include tested recipes are available for purchase at the Master Food Preservers class. The cost is nominal, to cover printing, and the information is invaluable for safe home food preserving.
Questions about safe home food preservation? Call the Master Food Preservers and leave a message at 530-621-5506. A Master Food Preserver will return the call.
The Master Food Preservers are also available free of charge to speak to organizations and clubs about food safety or food preservation topics. Call the number above to arrange for a speaker for small or large groups.
For more information go to the Master Food Preserver Website at cecentralsierra.ucanr.org/Master_Food_Preservers/.