Tomatoes, both fresh and canned, are excellent sources of vitamin A and vitamin C and are low in calories. If you have fresh tomatoes from your garden, preserving them is both simple and a good way to save money. The canning process for tomatoes requires cooking, which increases the amount of lycopene, an anti-oxidant that lowers the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer, which means that tomatoes are one of the few fruits that are actually better for you cooked than raw.
Canning tomatoes is a simple process and can be done with a minimum of special equipment. The only items you will actually need, other than the tomatoes themselves, are enough canning jars and lids to hold them all. One simple method of canning tomatoes is:
Remove stems and bad spots from the tomatoes.
Quarter or half the tomatoes and cook them down to a stew in a sauce pan. If you want more whole tomatoes cook them less.
Pour the stewed tomatoes into jars and put the lids on.
Once they have completely cooled, place them in your freezer.
Although there are other methods for canning, some of which work better, this method is the easiest to follow and will keep your tomato paste or juice good for up to a year. Whole tomatoes can also be frozen without any cooking. If you are wanting to expand your canning into more than simple stewed tomatoes you will want to look at pressure cooking them. If you invest in a pressure cooker, it opens up different ways to make and store your tomatoes.
To really get the most out of your garden-grown tomatoes, investing in a pressure cooker will give you an even quicker and more reliable method of canning. With a pressure cooker, the stewing takes place once the tomatoes have been canned, making it less messy and easier to can them. Using a pressure cooker will also remove the microorganisms and seal the stewed tomatoes in an air tight environment for your safety.
When it comes to canning and preserving foods, avoiding impurities and disease-causing organisms should be your biggest concern. Although freezing tomatoes prior to cooking is easy, the tomatoes should be cooked once they have thawed. If you can afford it, pressure cooking your tomatoes, and any vegetables, will make your canned foods much safer and healthier. Pressure cooking will also make the canned goods last longer and retain more of their flavor by avoiding having to freeze them.
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