June 27th, 2015 1:47 am

First Posted: 8/27/2013

Labor Day weekend is often the time when folks are harvesting their gardens, stopping by farmers markets and thinking ahead to preserving produce.

Preserving fruits and vegetables is one way to keep the flavors of home and/ or locally grown produce and summer experiences a little bit closer during the cold, dark, winter days.

Penn State Extension has just revised the “Let’s Preserve” series. This is a series of fact sheets which explains research-based procedures for preserving foods safely.

One fact sheet reviews the proper procedures for preserving tomatoes. If you choose to can tomatoes, it’s important to use only use disease-free and from vines that are not dead. Green tomatoes are more acidic and can be safely canned with any of the recommendations.

Tomatoes can be processed in either a water bath or a pressure canner. It’s important to note that if you use a water bath, two tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or ½ teaspoon of citric acid needs to be added per quart of tomatoes. This will slightly lower the pH and will ensure the safety of the tomatoes. There is no need to add acidity if using a pressure canner.

Many folks follow recipes passed on from their family. Penn State Extension encourages everyone to use only the scientifically-approved procedures. Tomatoes that are preserved using a water bath and are packed in water need to be processed for 45 minutes for quarts and 40 minutes for pints. Those that are packed without any added liquid need to be processed longer, for 85 minutes for quarts or pints. Why? The practice of adding liquid to the quart jar reduces the viscosity or thickness of the mass. It will take a longer period of time for the center of the jar to reach the needed internal temperature.

Penn State Extension fact sheets can be found at and select the Home Food Preservation website. Or call our office to request your copy at 1-888-825-1701.

To enjoy Labor Day weekend, serve freshly-sliced tomatoes with chopped basil. Tomatoes are part of the orange/red vegetable group. Adults on average should be consuming 5 one-half – 6 cups over a week’s time. Or try this recipe, Vegetable Salsa:


1 cup diced zucchini

1 cup chopped onion

4 bell peppers (your choice of colors and types), seeded and diced

4 tomatoes, diced

1 clove garlic, minced (more if desired)

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp sugar

¼ cup lime or lemon juice

Wash vegetables and prepare as directed. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss gently to mix. Cover and refrigerate for an hour before serving. Makes 8 – one cup servings.

Adapted from: Mayo Clinic Healthy Recipes