Need some reasons why to home can tomatoes?
The biggest reason we home can our own food supply is we know exactly what went into each jar. Especially if you grow your own fruits and vegetables. And tomatoes are usually at the top of everyone’s home-growing list. Even if you are not tilling up soil and planting a huge garden, many people grow tomatoes in pots or raised beds for their personal consumption or home canning needs.
Others of us who preserve upwards of 9 bushels of tomatoes a year will rely on local farmers or farm stands to procure such a haul. Buying locally attributes to knowing where your food comes from, even if you did not grow it yourself. Knowing the farmer’s growing methods gives you confidence when compared to shopping at large chain stores who import fruit and vegetables from all over the world. Knowing where our food comes from is huge for most of us home canners, but some home canned foods resonate over others, like the tomato. Farmers produced more than 170 million tons of tomatoes worldwide in 2014 according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
The tomato is at the heart of so many recipes. Appetizers, main courses, even jams and jellies, the tomato is probably the most versatile and abundantly eaten foods. I would go as far to say that the tomato ranks as a favorite among humans. The tomato consumption alone in America is second only to potatoes according to a 2016 article by Nutrition Today. And, the primary recipe attributed to tomato consumption is tomato sauce. While the USDA spent countless hours breaking down the tomato’s consumption data in America, it is plain to see the tomato’s popularity across the globe.
The second largest reason home canners preserve tomatoes and tomato-based recipes is the ability to control its flavor. While many preserve tomatoes in their own juice, or simply in water, creating tomato based meals in a jar, soups and stews, and a variety of flavored sauces gives us flexibility and usability when creating meals in our home. Meals we know our family will love consuming.
How have tomatoes changed over the decades?
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamins, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper. They’re great for people suffering with diabetes; tomatoes help protect the kidneys and lower cholesterol levels. Many do complain that tomatoes do not taste the same today as they did 40 years ago. Have you heard your grandparents say something along these lines? If so, they may be onto something…
An international study published in the Journal of Science claims tomatoes don’t taste the way they used to prior to varieties popping up everywhere. In our efforts to mass produce, promote even ripening, and encourage resistance to chemicals, we have inadvertently removed a good portion of the 100 compounds responsible for making a tomato taste tomato-y! To combat this less than desirable change, consider buying locally. A farmer’s market tomato might not look quite as beautiful, but it might be a little more flavorful, and you’ll be helping a neighbor.
Recipes for Canning Tomatoes
If you’re looking for an easy canning recipe to start with, try my Basil Diced Tomatoes. I often tell people this is also a great recipe to use when learning to work with your pressure canner for the first time. Basil Diced Tomatoes recipe uses Roma tomatoes and is simple yet delicious and incredibly versatile. Roma tomatoes are great for canning because of their thin skin and have less liquid and seeds than other varieties. Personally, I only use Romas when canning because of their thin skin. I leave their skins on when canning. Not having to blanch and peel tomatoes is such a time-saver!
In addition to my Basil Diced Tomatoes, another fun recipe from my latest book, The Complete Guide to Pressure Canning is Tomato Chutney. Tomato Chutney is such an easy recipe that is truly a fall favorite in my home. These are two amazing canning recipes if you are interested in preserving tomatoes in something other than just water.