Keeping tomatoes : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I know this is an extremely simple question, but I can't find the answer to it, and my dear grandma who could have told me is no longer here, so I thought one of you smart people might be able to help.

I planted a garden this spring; my first, for the experience I know will be needed later. Lots of advice available, plus the things grandma taught me while she could. BUT:

My tomatoes are ripening at about a dozen a day. How do you keep the ones that are ripe from spoiling while you're waiting for the rest to catch up? Putting them in the fridge is fine for now, but when the fridge isn't fridging, what'll I do? I'm looking at about 2 weeks of storage... Help!!!

-- Debbie (, August 16, 1998


Contact your county's extension office. Look in Govt pages in your phone book, county sect. The people who staff these offices are usually associated with a local university, etc. They have tons of useful and free information . They even have recipes! K S

-- Karen Shirer (, August 16, 1998.

Debbie, Tomatoes don't have to be stored in the refrigerator. In fact they keep a better flavor if you just leave them at room temperature. You can probably keep them up to a week this way. How do you plan to preserve them? If you plan to dry them, you could just dry them as you pick them.

-- June (, August 16, 1998.

We dried our tomatoes last year and they are still very good. Cut them in half and put a little oil and pepper on the cut surfaces. The oil will keep the tomatoes pliable so they won't get so hard or brittle. For storing them more that one year I would leave off the oil. Might get rancid.

-- Tomatoe like potatoe (, August 16, 1998.

My husband bought a bunch of tupperware containers and made spaghetti sauce. We have a huge freezer in our basement. This makes for a quick meal during the week. If you are like us, once school and soccer and scouts starts up, no time to cook! He puts italian sausage in it. Mail me if you want the recipe.

-- Amy Leone (, August 17, 1998.

Also get yourself a Burpee's Seed Catalog; I think you can go to their website and order catalog for free. When you get it look for a tomato called "Long Keeper". These are meant to be picked green and stored in newspaper in a cool location. I understand they will keep for months in cool storage this way. I think they ripen slowly, although I haven't tried them, I intend to order up a bunch of seed. From what I have read, sun drying is good if you don't want to do the canning in jars with pressure cooker processing. That is the best way to store. When I was a kid my mother canned all summer long and we ate nearly fresh veggies all winter. Tomato juice, sauce, stewed, dilled like pickles...There are great books on food local used bookstore has shelves full of cook books, many of them on caning.

Happy, happy gardening, and bon apetit!

-- Donna Barthuley (, August 17, 1998.

Debbie, There are a couple of things you can do in this situation. One is to freeze the tomatoes whole in rigid containers or bags til you get enough to can. Then defrost them, add them to the fresh tomatoes you have and prepare them as usual. The peels will slip off them pretty easily, too after they have been frozen.

The other thing you can do is to go ahead and can small batches of tomatoes. Many recipes for things like salsa only call for 5 lbs or so of tomatoes. Use these types of recipes til you get a large quantity of tomatoes, or just can plain tomatoes and use them to make your recipes later.


-- sylvia (, August 18, 1998.

I was just curious. How are you all going to do canning and freezing if there is no electricity? I know people canned food before electricity. However, do we have the proper equipment today? Would our local extension office be able to tell us how to can food without electricity?

-- curious (, August 18, 1998.

When I was a kid (I'm 73 now) I used to help my Mom can tomatoes on a wood burning stove. When TSHTF, you're going to have to have heat for cooking. Use the same heat source for canning.


-- hull stetson (, August 18, 1998.

The answer is:

When the tomatoes are done growing and are still green, pick them from the plant. Wrap each tomatoe in newspaper and store in a cool, dry place, like a basement. As you need a tomatoe, take it out and place it on your window ceil and it will turn red. Voila! My mother did it when I was a kid and it worked. That's what I am going to do this year with the tomatoes I am growing this year. I don't remember exactly how long they lasted, but I believe it was at least a month. Let's try it and compare our results. Good tomatoe luck to you!

-- Nora Muchow (, July 23, 1999.

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