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Tomato Preserves Enliven a Dull Winter

| 11/7/2012 9:10:28 AM

Tomato Preserves

While the eastern part of this country reorganizes itself after a huge “superstorm,” those of us who were spared terrible destruction and hardship breathe a sigh of relief. During these tough times, many people have learned the hard way the simple pleasures of just having food to eat and a warm bed in which to sleep. Life’s not much fun when it turns into a battle of endurance and survival. This is why I’m such a proponent of advance preparation, including food preservation: It literally saves lives.

Having enough fruits, vegetables and herbs to tuck away for later use is a tremendous blessing. As Old Man Winter prepares to create a big chill for many of us, I often think of the Ingalls family and their epic endurance of The Long Winter so feelingly described in that book by Laura Ingalls Wilder. On the edge of starvation, with precious little stored food of their own (and no railway shipments available in town during seven months of blizzards), the family subsisted on sour-dough-based coarse wheat bread and a few potatoes.

While many readers of MEN are already well-versed in food preservation and storage, some younger and/or newer folks are just getting their feet wet, so to speak. You may never have known the pleasure and reassurance resulting from putting up and using your own stored food during winter instead of driving to the market. Our American pioneer homemakers made food preservation both an art and a science. I’m very pleased to see a tremendous rekindling of this taking place across the country. Food preservation classes are in great demand and more people than ever seem to be interested in learning how it’s done. At the end of this piece, you’ll find one of my pet canning recipes (tomato preserves) to try. It’s short and simple — and nearly goof-proof.

The Ingalls family would surely have been thrilled to eat a dish of canned fruit and some dried meat. Better yet, they’d probably have loved some tomato preserves to spread on that tiresome (albeit live-giving) brown bread! I love tomato preserves anytime, but especially in winter when tomatoes fresh from the garden are only a dim memory. When spread on toast or muffins, the tangy, tomatoey flavor of this concoction tingles the tongue and brings summer back in a flash.

In my mind, “Ball Blue Book of Preserving” tomato preserve recipe is just great as it is. You may, however, want to add some spices or flavors tailored to your personal taste. Still have a few pounds of tomatoes lingering on the vine or in a basket, but you’re burned out on the same-old, same-old canning recipes?  Give this a try:

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