Your Home Canned Tomatoes, Useful in So Many Ways
Tomatoes are a popular food to can. They are easy to grow and relatively easy to preserve. But what do you do with them after what may have been a bounteous harvest when faced with jar after jar after jar of beautiful, richly red, delicious home canned tomatoes?
Many people find them wonderful as a side dish, and those who have not tried it, may be pleasantly surprised at how tasty a bowl of home canned tomatoes can be. Some prefer them sweetened with sugar. Others opt for a touch of salt and a liberal sprinkling of pepper. It has even been known to have them flavored with a bit of Worcestershire sauce. There are, indeed, many choices, and, of course, there are numerous people who are quite satisfied with eating them plain.
You need not, however, restrict your use of home canned tomatoes to side dishes. They can easily be substituted for fresh tomatoes in many dishes. In fact, one expert points out that often that is a substitution that should be made, noting that "there are brimming bins of tomatoes year-round in many
markets, but one taste is all you need to know that these pale, firm
impostors have very little real tomato flavor. Sources at the California
Tomato Growers Association explain that these so-called fresh tomatoes
have been bred to be thick-skinned, tough, and dry enough to withstand
the long voyage to markets across the country." (Molly Stevens, Fine Cooking) The tomatoes that you have canned at home are likely to have been preserved using freshly picked, ripe, red (meaning more real tomato flavor), truly flavorful tomatoes.
One 32 oz quart jar is roughly equivalent to 10 to 12 small to medium sized, whole, peeled tomatoes (about 2 pounds). If your recipe calls for chopped tomatoes, for each 1 cup of fresh chopped tomatoes, use 2/3 cup of canned chopped tomatoes. Canned whole tomatoes can easily be chopped as needed. It is possible that you may want to drain off some of the juice to avoid an end result that is too runny.
Home canned tomatoes are also wonderful to use in producing sauces and soups. Salsas are especially easy if you have access to such products as Mrs Wage's Instant Salsa mixes.
However you use them, remember that canned tomatoes are often better than their "fresh" counterparts. The exception to this may be the truly fresh tomatoes that are available right out of your garden, at farmers' markets or even at your local supermarket during those few weeks when they are "in season." Even then your home canned tomatoes can prove to be a tremendous convenience in quick meal preparations. There seem to be more pros than cons when it comes to using canned tomatoes. They’re quick, convenient and full of nutrients, being low in calories, but rich in Vitamin C and fiber. As for additives, you may not be certain what is in the commercially canned varieties, but with home canned tomatoes you know that the only additives present are the ones that you have added, and with those, you have complete control.
As for recipes, internet resources abound. If you lack something ready at hand, a quick search is likely to reveal any number of interesting dishes to try. If you do so, you may very well be glad you did.