Nutrition Corner: It’s tomato time, so savor those tomatoes

Nutrition Corner - Mary Ehret
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It’s tomato time again in the tomato capital of the world — Pittston.

Tomato lovers get together at the Pittston Tomato Festival to celebrate their love of tomatoes, and what a great thing. Tomatoes are good for you. They are low in calories and full of nutrients. Vitamin C, potassium and vitamin A are three that top the list. Tomatoes are part of the orange/red vegetable group. Adults on average should consume five and one-half to six cups of vegetables from the orange red group over a week’s time.

There is nothing like slicing into a juicy vine-ripened tomato. But how can we enjoy these tomatoes all year round?

Penn State Extension Let’s Preserve Tomato fact sheet tells us the safe method for preserving tomatoes. First, it is important to use only use disease-free and from vines that are not dead. Green tomatoes are more acidic and can be safely preserved with any of the recommendations for regular tomatoes.

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 lemon juice or ½ teaspoon of citric acid need to be added per quart of tomatoes. This will slightly lower the pH and ensure the safety of the tomatoes. There is no need to add acidity if using a pressure canner.

Some folks might use family recipes. Penn State Extension encourages everyone to use only the scientifically approved recipes and procedures, including processing for the proper amount of time. Times for tomatoes preserved using the water bath method and packed in water is 45 minutes for quarts and 40 minutes for pints. Those packed without any added liquid need to be processed longer, for 85 minutes for quarts or pints. Why? Because the practice of adding liquid to the quart jar reduces the viscosity or thickness of the mass, so it takes less time. Visit extension.psu.edu/food-safety for more Penn State Extension Let’s Preserve fact sheets.

Try this recipe for homemade fresh salsa. Enjoy on top of cucumber slices or a whole grain pita wedge.

Easy No Cook Salsa

2 cans diced tomatoes (14.5 ounce cans, drained) or 4 medium tomatoes

1 can diced green chiles ( 4.5 ounce can, drained)

1/4 cup green onion (sliced) or fresh

1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)

2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 garlic, (minced)

In a large bowl, stir together all the ingredients until well mixed. Cover and chill at least 4 hours. Enjoy on cucumber slices or whole grain pita wedges. Note: this recipe is not for canning purposes

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Nutrition Corner

Mary Ehret