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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How to Hold Tomatoes Until You're Ready to Can Them

     It's the end of July.  The tomatoes in the garden are just starting to ripen.  I will eventually process a bunch of them to make sauce, but at this point there aren't enough to fill the canner.  Here is what to do:
    First of all, pick the tomatoes before they are fully ripe.  Do this because it seems that critters like mice, chipmunks, possum and birds like to race us to the nice red ones.  They're not so keen on the not so ripe ones, so if you have a problem with partially eaten tomatoes, pick them orange and set them on the kitchen window sill to ripen to full red.  You can also do this the years when blossom end rot is getting to the red ones.  If that is a problem for you, pick them as soon as they start to show color.  They won't get any bigger at that point anyways, but will ripen without rotting at the blossom end as long as they're off the vine.
     As the tomatoes get nice and red put them in a gallon size plastic bag, left open, and set them in the refrigerator.  The bag is left open so that condensation from room temperature tomatoes (or sunny window sill temperature tomatoes) does not form on them while they are in the bag.  Once they're cold, you can close up the bag, for all but about an inch.  Let it breathe.
     When there are enough to take a day off from other chores to process them, take them out of the fridge and go to it.
     I have found tomatoes will keep just fine for about two weeks this way.  I've done this for many years and it's always worked out just fine.
     A word about those critters that like to take one bite out of a nice tomato and then move on to the next one.  I somewhat solved this problem one year by taking the big beautiful tomato with one bite out of it and setting it on the ground right next to the tomato vine.  An offering!  Believe it or not, the critter actually came back nightly until it finished off the fruit.  Then I set another one in the same spot.

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Comments on this blog are welcome. Ask questions, post your own experiences about the subject, post recipes, helpful tips, stories. Thanks! ~Bev