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County Extension, RC&D hold tomato workshop

It’s summer in Alabama, and that means tomato season is in full swing. The Franklin County Extension and the Northwest RC&D council held a tomato preservation workshop June 28, led by Susan Hill, at the A.W. Todd Centre in Russellville, to share free information about using and preserving tomatoes safely.

“This is part of our project to help the general public get back to the basics with food preservation,” explained Franklin County Extension Coordinator Katernia Cole Coffey. “If you know how to can and preserve food, you’ll never go hungry. This is a good life skill to have.”

Workshop information included methodology for drying, freezing and canning, including safety tips – such as removing the peeling if freezing tomatoes, making sure a refrigerator is maintained at the appropriate temperature and avoiding practices that would allow bacteria to grow.

Other tips included making sure to double-bag tomatoes if storing in the refrigerator or making sure to place them in a separate container in order to prevent them absorbing the taste of the other items.

Hill kicked off the evening by demonstrating how to make tomato salsa. Safety tips included:

  • Be careful to avoid cross-contamination. Clean and sanitize cutting boards before use.
  • Use slightly warm water to wash tomatoes.
  • Never use detergents for washing fruits and vegetables.

Everyone received a folder of information, including the tomato salsa recipe used for the evening.

The Extension served already-prepared tomato dishes.

After that, it was time to move to the kitchen to learn about and actually can tomatoes.

There was a raffle for a water bath canner, a special pot necessary for canning tomatoes, and each participant went home with a jar of stewed tomatoes.

“We enjoy working with our partners to bring life skills to people in the community that not everybody knows how to do,” explained RC&D executive director Lauranne James. “We’re hoping to continue the interest and promote agriculture awareness. These are huge life skills.”

TOMATO SALSA

Yield: 4 pints

Ingredients

  • 4 cups peeled, cored, chopped slicing tomatoes
  • 2 cups seeded, chopped long green chiles
  • 1/2 cup seeded, chopped jalapeño peppers
  • 3/4 cup chopped onions
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups vinegar, 5% acid
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon oregano leaves, 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Ladle hot.
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