how do I store NC Tomato crop?

quirkpod(7 Lewisville NC)July 28, 2008

I had to word that one so it would not be removed as OT. I have a lot to learn about canning vs. freezing, and have no experience with either. What about refrigerating a tomato? I found this in a cooking magazine: "once the tomato falls below 50 degrees, its flavor enzymes are destroyed. This also causes the texture of the tom to break down and become mealy." Comments, please. This also pertains to storing a sliced tom. The mag says it will last 24 hours on the countertop wrapped in plastic wrap. PLEASE educate me about tomato storage. I am desperate for info, given our sudden glut of tomato production here. Robin in Lewisville, NC

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Unblemished, not over ripe or bruised tomatoes will last several days on your counter top without any wraping. I never heard of wrapping one in plastic wrap, incidently. When you pick a tomato that is getting ripe, it continues to ripen until it is either eaten or rots. I do not refrigerate tomatoes, except those that are cut up in a salad. They don't really turn mushy for a day or so in the frig unless they get really cold. Go to the harvest forum for info on preserving them. Personally, I can tomato juice with mine. I have not liked freezing them because they take up too much space. So far this year I've got about 40 quarts of juice and about that much more to go from my 77 tomato plants.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 1:34PM
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You've hit upon the reason why home grown and store bought taste so different! The 50 degree rule. All t'maters that get transported, do so in a refrigerated truck, exposure to temps below 50 degrees ruins their flavor.

I dry my extras in a food dehydrator.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 1:58PM
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Hi Robin - I'm dealing w/a bumper crop of (cherry) tomatoes now too. As you've read, refrigerating does change them, but since I've always liked fresh tomatoes cold, guess I'm wrecking them and don't know any better! Food Network had a show on just this topic yesterday.

Because I seem to have critters sample tasting my fruits on the vines, I'm now picking them at the first sign of blush and letting them ripen in a casserole dish on the kitchen counter. Then, whatever I haven't snacked on, goes in a green bag in the 'fridge (I'm sooo ashamed!). Works for me!

I've given away many pounds, snacked myself into a tomato coma and still have more coming daily. Not being one to 'put up' veggies (saucing, canning, etc) I was wondering about drying - anybody know of a low temp oven method equivalent to a dehydrator?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 5:07PM
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Uncut leave on counter until ready to eat. Try not to let
rot, which they'll do in a few days after reaching peak

If cut, yes, wrap them in plastic and store in the fridge.
I wouldn't leave them out too long, as it's not worth getting
sick over.
After about a day, a cut tomato will not be worth much other
than added to a salsa or on tacos.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 7:13PM
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coorscat(6 and 9)

Robin: When I had kids at home I would save up until I had enough (yes I put them in fridge and for my purpose it didn't seem to hurt them) and add in my bell peppers, basil and whatever else I wanted and canned jars and jars and jars and jars of spaghetti sauce! I even set some aside with a little gingham decorated cloth top one year and gave those along with a spaghetti spoon for Christmas gifts. It took the better part of the day to do it but I did rope in kids and DH to peel the tomatoes (which IMHO is the most work what with the dipping in boiling water & ice. I also tried canning salsa but that didn't taste very good :o(
My mother used to just wash them and cut them up and but them in freezer bags to add them to cooked dishes.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 1:11PM
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Frances Coffill(7b)

What ever I don't eat....... (between the Peaches and Tomatoes I am a glutton, cannot get enough of either)

Scald, slip the skins off, drain well, cool and freeze them in quart bags, The small bags fill the gaps in the freezer nicely and I always have tomatoes for whatever I want. I don't season them, that way they are good for all sorts of different dishes.

Romas, I peel, half and seed only perfectly ripe fruit. these I also freeze for sauce.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 11:58AM
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Tammy Kennedy

i've found that you can freeze them whole and they are super easy to peel when they come out of the freezer. Freeze on a cookie sheet in a single layer then slip them into big bags. When you want to use them, take out what you need and just rinse them in very hot tap water for a few seconds and the peel will thaw and slip right off. Then you can use them in sauces or soups or whatever you would normally use them for cooked. The texture wouldn't work for anything that called for fresh.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 5:08PM
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Frances Coffill(7b)

great tip! why fuss when you don't have to! that is going to save me some time!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 6:04PM
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When I was growing up, my grandmother would wrap green tomatoes in newspaper and store them in her root cellar where it was cool. I've never done this, btw. Someone else can probably add to how well this works. I don't know how long they lasted. I just remember her wrapping them up each fall.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 9:02PM
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Tammy Kennedy

Each year the n&o has a columnist who write about that. It works from what i've heard. I haven't tried it because i usually use my green tomatoes green or let them ripen on the counter in the fall. The small green ones are a nice piquant addition to stir fries and or salsa. The larger ones get fried or ripen slowly on the counter. I've never had so many that i felt i needed to store a bunch in the basement. I've heard you can take the whole vine and hang it upside down in a root cellar/basement and the toms will ripen slowly that way, too.

Thanks, francis! If there's a lazy way to do something, leave it to me to figure it out! I hate the fuss of canning so i freeze to preserve most of my extra stuff. I believe i stumbled on that method when i bought a whole box of romas at the market and had to do something with them fast and was really busy. I'd used it for fruit and figured why not. They are the best base for soup in the winter!

Somebody asked about drying cherry toms and that would work really well i'd think. If you have a gas stove, cut them in half and leave them in there with just the pilot light. Electric, try the very lowest setting. Of course dehydrators would work better. Pastes or plums dry super well since they are already less juicy. I've read that spreading them on a window screen in the sun works, but i think that works better in a less humid clime than ours, plus you'd have to worry about bugs getting in or on them.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 1:12PM
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Thanks, Tami - I did ask about drying the little ones and, thot the same as you said, but didn't quite trust my own common sense, I will try the pilot light oven method and see how it works. I hate to let them go to waste, but am running out of friends to foist pounds off on!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 2:06PM
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I've only had good taste experience with the large round t'maters. All the cherries I've dried were too tough skin wise to be usable. I guess you could peel them (ha ha ha - now there's a weekends worth of work for nothin!!). Dried t'maters take on a special flavor much different than canning or freezing. Kinda like the way the large Mexican peppers taste when you re-constitute them - very smoky and rich without being too hot or spicy (key ingrediant to world class salsa).

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 4:06PM
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