Storing fruits and vegetables for winter use, is an age-old practice, which is still followed by many, especially those who live in inaccessible rural areas. Those living in urban areas have supermarkets to supply these food items, even during winters. However, storing or preserving is always preferable as it is economical and convenient, especially for those who grow such vegetables or fruits in their home gardens. You can retain the freshness of these fruits and vegetables, throughout the winter, with proper storage and preservation methods.
Tips for Storing Tomatoes for Winter Use
You may not be able to imagine a garden fresh tomato during winters; but you can store these fruits during the harvest, when they are available in plenty. If you want to store tomatoes for a few days, freezing is not necessary. You can keep them in the kitchen itself, so that the fresh flavor is retained. You can also freeze whole tomatoes or the peeled ones, but it may not retain the freshness for a long time. There are various methods of storing tomatoes, without compromising its freshness and flavor.
Freezing: If you are not interested in canning or drying, you may adopt this easy method. Add fresh and ripe tomatoes to a container with boiling water. Allow the water to boil for another 60 seconds. Take out the tomatoes immediately and dip them in ice-cold water. Peel off the skin and allow the tomatoes to cool. Place them in freezer bags and add some salt. Squeeze out the air in each bag, seal and place in the refrigerator. You can thaw and use them whenever necessary.
Canning: Wash and sterilize the jars (quart or pint jars), and allow them to dry. In the meantime, you can prepare the tomatoes for canning. Boil water in a big pot and add the ripe tomatoes. Allow the water to boil, till the tomatoes develop cracks. As soon as they develop cracks, remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and put them in ice-cold water. You can easily remove the skin of the tomatoes. Fill the jars with the peeled tomatoes, some salt and boiling water. Do not fill the entire jar, leave a gap of around half an inch. Slide down a spoon inside the jar and rotate it, in order to remove the air bubbles. Wipe off the rim and sides of the jar, close and seal them. The next step is to place the jars in a boiling water bath canner, and process for around 35 minutes. Make sure to start the timer, only after the water reaches a boil. After the stipulated time, remove the jars from the canner and allow them to cool for about 24 hours. Properly sealed jars have an inward dent on the lid. If the lid moves up and down, when you press it, that jar is not properly sealed. Bottles that do not have such dents have to be stored in the refrigerator. Store others in a cool, dark place.
Drying: If you like the flavor and taste of dried tomatoes, you can try this method. In order to dry tomatoes, take fresh, ripe tomatoes and wash them. Cut them in half and sprinkle some salt. Allow them to dry in a food dehydrator, and this may take one or two days. The tomatoes have to be completely dry and firm, before storing. Once dry, store them in a jar, which does not have any trace of moisture.
You may also make chutneys, pickles, jams, and juice; and store them for winter use. You can even puree tomatoes and freeze for future use. In short, storing tomatoes for winter use is economical and convenient.