Edible Monterey Bay

THE PRESERVATIONIST: ONE JAR OF PRESERVED TOMATOES

Spring’s most precious preserves
and two recipes for enjoying them

BY JORDAN CHAMPAGNE

one-jar-tomatoes
Photo by Margaux Gibbons

“She cans the songs of the whippoorwill
And the morning dew and the evening moon
’N’ I really got to go see her pretty soon
’Cause these canned goods I buy at the store
Ain’t got the summer in them anymore.”

From “Canned Goods” by folk artist Greg Brown,
referring to his grandmother’s home-canned foods

Greg Brown pretty much sums it up.

Spring is the time of year when we most long for the fresh, vineripened local tomatoes of summer and autumn. But tomatoes that are found in the market now pale in comparison to the flavor of tomatoes at their peak, and most canned tomatoes in the store are not preserved from amazing heirloom and dry farmed tomatoes harvested at the height of the season. Instead, more often they are tomatoes that were picked rock hard and green and shipped in bulk in large tractor trailers to a production plant to be processed and put into cans.

This is one of the beauties of preserving food at home. You can capture the most exquisite flavors that a fruit or vegetable has to offer, making the opportunity to open a jar of home-preserved tomatoes months later a chance to release a ray of summer sunshine. So it’s no wonder that in spring, just one jar of preserved tomatoes becomes a very coveted item in the cupboard.

My favorite way to preserve tomatoes is what I call crushed tomatoes. It is a simple preserve of just tomatoes, a pinch of sea salt and a dash of lemon juice. The preparation allows you to open a jar and use them in any dish you want. We find one pint of preserved tomatoes is a perfect serving size per person for most dishes.

We use canned crushed tomatoes in our kitchen at our café when tomatoes are out of season to make delicious soups, stews and bowls. They are so full of flavor that you will have a taste of summer every time you use them!

Jordan Champagne is the co-owner and founder of Happy Girl Kitchen Co., which preserves more than 10,000 pounds of local, organic tomatoes during peak season from August to November.

RECIPES

Best Tomato Soup Ever

Winter Salsa

Preserved Crushed Heirloom Tomatoes

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