Tomato is a perishable crop, ripe tomato without preservation has a shelf life of 2 to 3 days.
When you have them in abundance there is a need to preserve them in order to avoid waste.
In Nigeria tomatoes are available all year round but there are seasons when they are in abundance and cheap and scarce and expensive,
you might want to buy and keep them for the rainy day.
And if you grow tomatoes and happen to have lots of harvest here are some options for you.
There are several healthy methods to preserve tomatoes without using preservatives, and this you can do at home.
Depending on your goal and your lifestyle you choose which method works best for you.
The different method are:
Now we will take a look at each of these methods closely,
Placing tomato in the refrigerator helps to keep it fresh for a longer time.
It’s best to refrigerate tomatoes when they are fully ripe, and allow unripe tomatoes to ripen at room temperature.
Refrigerating unripe tomatoes stops the ripening process.
When tomato is placed in the fridge it can stay fresh for about two weeks
Tomatoes kept in the fridge maintains its original shape and texture and can be used in salads, for sandwich, eaten fresh or used as garnish in food,
It can also be blended and used in cooking stew or soup.
To refrigerate, wash the fresh tomatoes and place in the refrigerator.
Tomatoes can be preserved by placing them in the freezer.
This has a longer shelf life than those placed in the fridge.
Frozen tomato can keep its flavour for 12 months.
When tomatoes are frozen they do not maintain their original shape when defrosted,
It loses its texture and becomes soft, unlike tomatoes kept in the fridge.
When tomatoes are kept in the freezer they can only be used for cooking afterwards.
To freeze, wash the fresh tomatoes and place in the freezer.
One of the very simple, easy and oldest ways to preserve tomatoes is to dry them, either by using sunlight, a dehydrator or an oven.
This method helps prevent decay and spoilage by removing moisture from the tomatoes.
This keeps the tomato for a longer time and the vegetable is available for use when tomato is scarce.
In some cases the dry tomato is blended to make tomato powder.
Steps to drying tomatoes:
- Fresh tomato
- Slice fresh tomato into two halves
- Lay it on a flat tray or surface
- Sprinkle little salt on it be careful not to use too much
- When using sunlight, place the tomato under the sun and bring them in when the sunsets repeat this process each day until the tomato is fully dry.
- Make sure the tomatoes are covered with a cheesecloth or net to avoid flies, other insects and lizards from perching on them.
- Be sure to place it on a clean surface.
- Heat the tomatoes for about 3 to 4 hours on low heat.
- Place the tomatoes into the dehydrator and allow it to dry the tomatoes.
The tomato is dried when there is no more moisture in it.
After this store the dried tomato in an airtight container and keep dry.
The dried tomato can also be kept in the fridge or freezer.
To hydrate the tomatoes, soak in warm water for 30 minutes and drain off the water
The water can be added for cooking too.
This is another way to preserve tomatoes, with this method the tomatoes can last for a year.
Let’s see the steps required to can tomato in glass jars.
When applying this method you will need glass jars with lid cover.
Sterilization: The process begins with sterilization of the glass jar
- To sterilize wash the jars and lid and rinse with clean water
- Use hot water to rinse off
- Place the jars in a pot add water and bring to a boil
- Allow to boil for 10 mins
- Turn off the stove
- Allow to sit in the boiling water until ready to use.
Preparing the tomatoes for canning
- Wash tomato properly in salt water
- Blend the tomatoes until it becomes a smooth paste
- Boil tomato until water is gone, make sure it does not burn
- Turn off the stove
- Allow the paste to cool
- Begin to fill up the glass jars with tomato paste until it’s almost filled up, leave a little space at the top.
- Place the jars with tomatoes into the pot and submerge with water
- Place the pot on a stove and bring to a boil for about 15 to 20 mins
- Allow to cool
- Store in a cool place, do not place directly under light
- Once opened for use, refrigerate or use up completely.
This method of preserving tomatoes can keep tomatoes up to a year and the method is a bit similar to that of canning,
The brine kills and prevents bacteria from growing thereby preserving the tomatoes from decay.
Click here for steps on how to pickle tomatoes
Tomato Storage Tip
When storing tomatoes, place the side with the stem down because moisture leaves the tomato from the stem.
Do this either at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Was this article helpful?