Tomato preservation. From summer to the next one.

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September, 2010

So many Opalka tomatos and so many of their fresh beefsteak relatives still on the vines we decided to send them to the freezer, where we could enjoy them all winter. Read on to see how easy it is.

Thumbnail image for tomatoe_peeling.jpgThumbnail image for tomato_seeds.jpgThumbnail image for tomato_puree.jpgOur freezer is the one on top of the refrigerator -- the size everyone has at least one of -- so we compact this meaty variety of tomato as much as possible.

Here's the set up: a pan of boiling water, a bowl of cold, a place to discard the peel, save the seeds and pulp.

Submerge tomato in boiling water for less than a minute, remove it with a slotted devise and place in cold bowl. Pick out a cool one from this bowl and peel. The skin comes off easily. If it doesn't start with ease, toss this one back into the boiling water before removing the skin.

These tomatoes are firm and don't fall apart when you remove the skin. (If they do, then you've left them in the boiling water too long, but no worry). This firmness also makes it easy to separate the meat from the seeds.

Use a sharp knife to remove the core, and just slide the seeds and the surrounding clear juice off the core, like we did here, into a bowl. There will be quite a bit of liquid around the seeds but put all that into a jar, and cover with a perforated lid or waxed paper with holes poked in it.

Then you can let the seeds ferment, which will make them stronger next season. This takes a few days and you might want to read an experts advice on this rather than take my word for it. You can wash and dry them, and store them for later.

As you can see from the last photo, the tomato pulp is free of seeds, cores and skin. We let this cook on low heat for several hours until it is a very thick paste.

Then we pour the reduction into a clean ice cube tray. After several hours, we pop the tomato cubes out of the tray and store in a freezer bag in the freezer. One cube is equivalent to roughly half of one of those narrow tomato paste cans, but a whole lot tastier.

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