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Tomatoes are native to South America and Mexico and were originally cultivated by the Incas and Aztecs. In the 16th Century they were brought to Southern Europe where they become a major addition to their cuisine, especially in Italy.

Today they are found in most kitchens worldwide. Tomatoes can be purchased in many forms; fresh, frozen, sundried and tinned.


Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins C, A and K, as well as thiamin (B1), dietary fiber, potasium, manganese, and chromium. They also contain other B vitamins, vitamin E, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus and tryptophan.

Tomatoes are an important source of lycopene, an open-chain, unsaturated carotenoid that is a powerful anti-oxident. Regular daily intake of lycopene appears to decrease the risks of developing some forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom tomato seeds, unlike those of hybrids crossing two pure lines, are the result of normal or "open" pollination by the wind, birds or insects within a field among similar plants. Heirloom tomatoes feature juicy, soft, flavorful, thin-skinned and sometimes lumpy-looking fruits in colors including red, pink, yellow, gold, black, purple and white.

Most heirloom tomatoes offer better flavor than hybrids developed for commercial shipping. They also provide greater genetic diversity and generally have better resistance to diseases and pests.

There are several types of heirloom tomatoes:

Commercial heirlooms are those introduced by seed companies prior to World War II and widespread hybridization. These include the Matchless, Redfield Beauty, Paragon and Optimus varieties.

Family heirlooms are tomatoes that have been passed down for generations within a family; examples include Mortgage Lifter, Red Brandwine and Kellogg's Breakfast.

Created heirlooms, such as Green Grape and Green Zebra, involve a crossing of two heirlooms or an heirloom and a hybrid and stabilizing the desired characteristics for eight years or more.

Mystery heirlooms, such as the off the vine Brandywine, are the result of natural cross-pollination between other heirlooms.


Pick most kinds of tomatoes when their color is even and glossy and the texture still slightly firm.

Some varieties, primarily large heirloom types, ripen before they reach full color. Pick them when they are mostly colored up and bring them inside to finish ripening.


Tomatoes are sensitive to cold. Store fresh tomatoes at room temperature and use immediately if they are ripe. Excessively ripe tomatoes in the refrigerator to prevent them from becoming over ripe.


When cooking tomatoes, do not use aluminium cookware as the high acidic content of tomatoes could result in the migration of the aluminum into the food, both affecting the taste and the health benefits of the tomato.


Wash jars. Prepare lids according to manufacturer’s instructions. Fill hot tomato products in jars. Remove air bubbles. Wipe sealing edge of jars with a clean, damp paper towel. Add lids and tighten screw bands. Process in a boiling water or pressure canner.
to process in a boiling water canner.

Fill canner halfway with water and preheat to 180˚F for hot packs or 140˚F for raw packs. Load sealed jars onto the canner rack and lower with handles, or load one jar at a time with a jar lifter onto rack in canner. Add water, if needed, to 1 inch above jars and add canner cover. When water boils vigorously, lower heat to maintain a gentle boil and process jars for the time given in Table 2 (page 2). After processing is complete, remove the canner from heat and remove the canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, carefully remove the jars from the canner with a jar lifter, and place them on a towel or rack to air-dry.

Freezing Tomatoes

From the Farm Kitchen at Farmer's Market Online

Sources: Let's Preserve Tomatoes (Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences)
Home Canning Kit
Home Canning Kit


Pressure Cooker/Canner
Pressure Cooker/Canner


Farm Produce
Farm Produce


Harvest Reports
Farmer's Market Online.
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