How To Turn Green Tomatoes Red And How To Store Tomatoes In The Fall
Ripening Tomato On The Vine: What You Need For Ripening On The Vine
Tomato on the vine ripens quicker than tomato on the tree. When you want to make sure your tomatoes are ripe, it’s best to keep them on the vine until they’re ready. There are two ways to ensure that your tomatoes will be ready when you need them. One way is to simply wait until the last minute and ripen your tomatoes on the vine. The other way is to store your tomatoes in a cool place like a refrigerator.
The first thing you have to decide is which type of tomato you want to use for this task. There are many types of tomatoes out there. Some produce more fruit while others produce less. If you’re trying to determine which type of tomato you’ll need, then you’ll want to look at the size and shape of the fruit.
Smaller fruits like cherry tomatoes are great for making sauces or purees because they don’t require much cooking time before they’re ready to eat. Larger fruits are great for cooking down into sauces. For this task, you’ll probably need to cut up the tomatoes or otherwise prepare them before cooking them.
What Else Do You Need To Ripen Tomatoes?
Tomatoes keep best when they’re kept cool. They’re very sturdy so you can store them almost anywhere and they’ll be fine. The most important thing is keeping them away from sunlight. They’ll turn the tomatoes brown if they’re exposed to too much light for a long period of time. If you need to store your tomatoes in a place that doesn’t get direct sunlight, you might consider using a box rather than a bag.
You can use any container that will seal and keep the tomatoes away from light. Most people use boxes or bags made out of dark plastic. If you store them in a box, then you should punch some holes in the top for the air to circulate. It would be best if the box is kept in a cool place like the basement or a cellar. If you don’t have a basement, then keep the box in a dark area of your home.
The last thing you need is a spot to keep the prepared tomatoes until you need them. A lot of people don’t have enough room in their refrigerators to keep many extra things so you might want to consider storing your fruits and vegetables on the counter rather than in the refrigerator. They should stay good for at least a week if they’re kept out of the light.
How To Do It
The first thing you need to do is wash all of your tomatoes and then prepare them for cooking. Depending on what you want to do with the tomatoes, you might need to cut them up into smaller pieces. For example, if you want to make sauce or soup, then you’ll probably need to cut the tomatoes into chunks.
You can either cut up the tomatoes before or after they’re cooked. If you cut them up before cooking, the cooking process will go much quicker. If you cut them up after they’re cooked, then you’ll have uniform chunks that will be easier to work with. Either way is fine, it just depends on your preference.
Once the tomatoes are cut or prepared however you want them to be, put them into a large enough pot so that they can all be covered with water. Fill the pot with enough water so that it covers all of the tomatoes and then add about a teaspoon of salt for every quart of water. You can adjust the amount of salt to your preference, but you probably shouldn’t add more than a tablespoon of salt.
Bring the pot to a boil and then cook the tomatoes for about an hour. You’ll know they’re done when most (or all) of the skin has come off the tomatoes and they’re soft enough to be pushed with a fork.
Remove the pot from the heat and put the cover on it. Allow it to cool for at least an hour and then store it in the refrigerator. It’s a good idea to put the container in the refrigerator right away so that bacteria doesn’t form on the top of it.
Once the sauce has been refrigerated, you can spoon it out or run it through a food mill to remove the skin and seeds if you want to. If you prefer chunky tomato sauce, then you can just leave the skin and seeds in.
You can use the tomato sauce within two days or you can freeze it in an airtight container for up to six months.
If you’re having trouble getting your tomatoes to cook down, it may be because you have some really watery tomatoes. There are a few tricks you can use to help make them release their liquids so they’ll cook down better.
Add a tablespoon of sugar to help bring out the juices.
Add a tablespoon of milk to help bring out the juices.
Put a couple of bread slices in the pot to soak up the water.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I can my own tomatoes?
There are two ways you can can your own tomatoes; by water bath method or by pressure canning. You should only use the water bath method if you plan to use the tomatoes immediately since they do not keep very long. To can the tomatoes, first prepare them as described above. Then cook them until they’re soft.
If you aren’t using a pressure canner, then you’ll need to boil the jars, lids, and rings in water for at least ten minutes to sterilize them. Once the tomatoes are done, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pot and divide them between the jars. Leave about an inch of headspace at the top of each jar.
Add enough water to the pot to fill it half way up the jars. Bring the water in the pot to a boil and then boil the jars in the water for 25 minutes for both half pints and pints or 30 minutes for quarts. Remove the jars using canning tongs and let them cool. You’ll hear a popping noise as the jars seal themselves. Once the jars are cool, check the seals by pressing down on the middle of the lid.
If it pops up and down, the jar isn’t sealed and you’ll need to refrigerate it and consume it quickly since bacteria may have gotten in.
If you’re using a pressure canner, follow your owner’s manual for instructions about preparing it and what altitude you’re at (this changes depending on where you live). Once it’s prepared, put the jars of tomatoes into the canner and follow the manual’s time guidelines.
What can I do if my tomatoes are too watery?
This usually happens when you cook the tomatoes down for a shorter amount of time. The sauce won’t be as thick or the chunks won’t hold their shape as well. Larger chunks will work better in these cases. Just simmer the sauce a little bit longer to thicken it up. You can also blend the sauce using an immersion blender to help thicken it up.
What can I do if my tomatoes are too thick or lumpy?
If the tomatoes were cooked down for too long, then the chunks will be too thick or even lumpy. Just simmer the sauce a little bit longer to thicken it up a bit. If you used a lot of tomatoes that were ripe, this could happen. Just blend the sauce a little with an immersion blender and it should thicken up.
How can I make this recipe with no sugar?
If you’d like to make this recipe sugar free, there is a way! Instead of adding 1/2 cup of sugar, add 1/4 cup of honey. This adds a nice touch of sweetness while also helping to preserve the sauce so it won’t spoil as quickly.
Do I have to use wine while canning?
No, you don’t have to use wine while canning. The alcohol will be cooked out and all that will be left is the subtle flavor. You could skip this step if you don’t like the taste of wine or if it’s not suitable for cooking in your household.
How long do the canned tomatoes last?
Properly canned tomatoes will last at least a year on your shelf. Once you open the jar, it’s best to consume them within a few months.
What can I do if my canned tomatoes are dark or black?
This usually means that the jars weren’t processed long enough. Just reprocess the jars.
What can I do if my canned tomatoes have foam on top?
This means that there is air in the jar. Just tilt the jars slowly to one side and gently tap them on the counter until the foam rises to the top. Lightly tip the jars back and forth and the bubbles should float to the top. Once most of the bubbles are at the top, you can take a butter knife and run it around the inside edge of the jar to get any remaining bubbles out.
How can I store my canned tomatoes?
Keep your canned tomatoes in a cool, dry place. Do not store them in the garage or a shed that tends to get really hot. A cupboard close to the floor is a good place since it’s not as likely to have temperature swings. Do not store your jars on a shelf, this could lead to breakage and make a bit of a mess.
What if I don’t like the taste?
You may find that the sauce has a different flavor than what you were used to or what you think it should taste like. Rather than give up, try mixing the canned tomatoes with other canned goods you may already have to enhance the flavor. Add a can of crushed tomatoes to your pasta instead of plain tomato sauce. Add some chili powder and garlic for flavor and dip fresh mozzarella in the mix for a delicious appetizer. Add some tomato chunks to your chicken soup and use plain yogurt in place of the heavy cream you usually use.
There are lots of ways to incorporate your canned tomatoes into dishes without letting them take center stage. Remember, canned goods are a convenience, not the star of the dish. Most people can’t tell the difference between canned and fresh if it isn’t obvious that it’s canned.
If all else fails, make Bloody Mary’s for your friends with the leftover juice!
What if my sauce still has a lot of liquid in the jars?
Your sauce should have no more than 1/2 teaspoon of liquid pooled at the bottom of the jar. This is necessary so that there is enough headspace for the sauce to expand in the jar as it heats. If you have more than that, you may have used too much water when boiling down your tomatoes or meat. Just drain off some of the liquid before canning. You can also process the jars a second time with new lids to seal them again, but only if you drained off some of the liquid first.
Canned tomatoes aren’t the only thing you can make! You can also make:
Meat sauces (meat, tomatoes, spices, and seasonings)
Pasta sauces (usually with a lot of cheese)
Pizza sauce (tomatoes, oregano, basil, garlic, and oil)
Vegetable sauces (mushrooms, spinach, carrots, celery, and onions)
Here are some other resources for canning:
So Good So Fresh So Easy by Karen Solomon. I use this book all the time for various recipes and guidelines. It also has explanations on canning as well as recipes.
The Ball Blue Book is a classic and is probably the most referenced canning book out there. It’s a little pricey but you can usually find it at used book stores or on Amazon fairly cheap (even cheaper if you get the Kindle edition).
The USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning is also a good resource that I use for guidance. It’s definitely a little on the boring side though.
If you’re interested in other preservation methods such as drying and root cellars, I recommend going to your local library and checking out books from there so you can read them at your leisure.
Another thing you can do is contact your local county extension office. They are a wealth of information on just about anything having to do with food.
Here’s a list of some other canning questions that you may have and the answers to them. I’ll be adding to it as time goes on.
What jars should I use?
It really doesn’t matter what brands of jars you use, they will all work the same. Some jars are easier to find than others depending on where you live though. I like to use Regular mouth jars for foods such as applesauce, pumpkin butter, and other fruits because you don’t need to wait for the jelly valves to come out before you can eat it. For wide mouth jars I like to use Ball since they are easier to get new lids for when I need them but they aren’t any better than any other wide mouth jars that are out there.
Where do I get lids and bands?
You can usually buy new ones in the grocery store in the canning section around this time of year. You can also buy them online. I buy mine in the grocery store because they’re easier to get and they’re new. If you want to save money and have older lids (as long as the lid and the band are both still in good condition) you can recycle your old lids and bands by sanitizing them. Just put them in a pot of water and bring it to a simmer for 10 minutes to kill any bacteria. Then let them sit in the water until you’re ready to use them again.
Where do I get jars?
You can usually get them in the grocery store in the canning section around this time of year. Once again, if you can’t find them there you can get them on line. I have a link here to an excellent source for everything you need.
What should I look for in a good canner?
Not all canners are created the same. The biggest difference is how wide the mouth of the canner is and how tall it is. For instance a No. 2 Wisconsin Farmhouse Crock is very wide but not very tall. There are little raised edges all the way around the top that help trap the heat in. You have to reach down into the pot to get your food out because the opening is very narrow and sometimes hard to get things out of because you can’t really see what you’re doing. The little raised edges also make it harder to clean. A newer canner might have a smooth surface all the way around like a typical pot and the opening is wider so you can see what you’re doing and get your food out easier but it doesn’t trap the heat in quite as well. I use my No. 2 Wisconsin Farmhouse Crock because it’s pretty but I need to use a lot more coal than someone with a better canner would have to.
Should I use fresh horseradish or should I buy the bottled stuff?
The bottled stuff is okay but it doesn’t have quite the kick that the fresh horseradish does. To get fresh horseradish all you have to do is peel off the outermost layer (it’s kind of tan and loose compared to the rest of the root) and then grate it up. You can keep the root itself in the fridge for a few days and then just throw it out when you’re done with it.
How do I make hard apple cider?
Hard apple cider is very simple to make. You need sugar, yeast and apple juice. That’s it. I like to let my juice sit for a month before I do anything with it because it gives the yeast time to work and make all the alcohol but you can drink it after a week if you want to.
To make 5 gallons of hard cider you will need about 60 medium size apples or 90 smaller ones.
1. First you need to wash your apples.
I just do this in a big tub in my sink.
2. After the apples are washed cut them up into smaller pieces and put them in your juicer.
3. Run the juice through the juicer.
4. Put a little more than a gallon of water (a gallon is 4 quarts) in your 5 gallon bucket and then add the juice.
You can add sugar at this point if you want. I like to let my cider ferment for a month before I do anything with it so I don’t add any sugar at all. If you want it sweeter you can always add more later.
5. Take a smaller bucket (2 or 3 gallon) and put a strainer over the top.
6. Take your juice and put it in the smaller bucket.
7. Keep rinsing your juicer with the cider in the small bucket, discarding the remains of the juice until all your apple mush is gone and all that is left in the strainer is the sediment at the bottom of your bucket.
8. Take a thermometer and put it in the cider.
You are looking for anything between 60 and 90 degrees.
1. You want to keep the yeast in the cider alive so if it’s too hot or too cold, find the source of the heat or cold and make it cooler or hotter until you reach your desired temperature.
2. You can add more water at this point to bring it up to 5 gallons if need be.
9. Take your juice and put it in a fermentation bucket (you can get these at the store when you buy your yeast) and then keep adding water until it’s topped off to 5 gallons. You do this so the yeast has plenty of oxygen to work on making the alcohol.
10. You’ll need to let this mixture ferment for about a month or so before you can drink it. After about a month check the temperature again. You want to make sure you don’t have a “hot” fermentation or it might make you sick. If it’s too hot, let it sit a few more days and check it again.
Eventually you can cool it in the fridge to slow down the fermentation or even use a water bath to bring down the temperature if needs be.
11. Once your cider has fermented and it’s cool you need to add the yeast. I use bread machine yeast but any kind will do provided it’s still alive. Put the yeast in a jar of warm water (a couple tablespoons of sugar or honey in the water will feed the yeast and get it active faster) and let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes to make sure it’s nice and active.
12. Add your yeast to the 5 gallons of cider.
13. Put the bucket in a cool dark place for another month or so and it should be ready to drink. You can add more water to it at anytime after the initial fermentation period is over if you want to give it a little more flavor, just don’t add too much or it will become more of a hard cider than a hard apple cider.
Please remember that alcohol is a poison and should be treated with respect and care.
Sources & references used in this article:
Shelf life of mature green tomatoes stored in controlled atmosphere and high humidity by SR Bhowmik, JC Pan – Journal of Food Science, 1992 – Wiley Online Library
Nondestructive maturity determination in green tomatoes using a handheld visible and near infrared instrument by G Tiwari, DC Slaughter, M Cantwell – Postharvest Biology and Technology, 2013 – Elsevier
Prestorage temperature manipulations to reduce chilling injury in tomatoes by F Flagg – 2011 – Ballantine Books
Photocatalytic degradation of ethylene on mesoporous TiO2/SiO2 nanocomposites: Effects on the ripening of mature green tomatoes by S Lurie, A Sabehat – Postharvest Biology and Technology, 1997 – Elsevier